Initiated in 2013 and completed in 2015, the REACH project was co-funded by the European Commission under the PROGRESS Action Grants on Violence Against Women. It primarily focused on the issue of human trafficking against women and girls in terms of:
- Raising awareness of the issue (including rights of victims and supports available) among victims and potential victims;
- Promoting a message of zero tolerance of human trafficking as a form of violence against women and girls, among men and boys;
- Developing innovative training and support to frontline actors including the development of a ‘mobile app’.
The key results/outcomes from all three strands of the REACH Project were as follows:
Women and Girls campaign
The aim of this campaign was to reach out to women and girls in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland who have been trafficked, or are at risk of being trafficked into prostitution. The targeted awareness raising activities sought to inform women and girls on the island of Ireland (who find themselves in a difficult situation in the sex trade) of the supports that are available to them and where they can seek help. This campaign was developed following a unique consultation process with women who have had a variety of experiences within the sex trade. This consultation facilitated the development of the message of the campaign and the most effective modes of delivery of the message to reach those women and girls in need of supports. This campaign was poster-based and the posters were distributed in key locations based on the womens’ recommendations including commuter points, immigration offices, direct provision centres and health settings. The free phone text number set up as part of the campaign will be in place for another two years. The message from this campaign was simple – to let all women and girls on the island of Ireland, who find themselves in a difficult situation in the sex trade, know that free, safe and confidential support is available specifically for them and to encourage them to access it.
Men and Boys campaign
This campaign’s main objective was to target men, the majority of whom do not buy sex, and to encourage them to make a stand against prostitution and sex trafficking. The campaign slogan ‘We don’t Buy it’ was selected as a brand for this campaign with the intention of giving the majority a voice and a way of reclaiming the ‘norm for men’. The campaign was delivered by way of a multi-media mix (outdoor, radio, public relations, online and social media) which combined both traditional and digital forms to ensure targeted reach and maximum attention. The campaign achieved very wide reach both online – www.wedontbuyit.eu website, #wedontbuyit trending on Twitter and support on Facebook with over 1,800 page ‘likes’ and in the traditional media – featured on the Luas, Dart, buses in Northern Ireland, telephone boxes on both sides of the border along with ‘Ad Mobiles’ which drove around Dublin and Belfast on the day of the launch, and was well received by the target audience. Feedback from the campaign suggests that this audience particularly liked the positive approach that the campaign took in encouraging men to collectively make a stand against prostitution and sex trafficking.
The campaign was launched in April 2015 and lasted a period of 6 weeks and achieved an awareness level of 9% amongst the general public in circumstances where the industry standard would be 3% or 4% for a campaign of this nature and duration. The reception and interest that the campaign received has been overwhelmingly positive both nationally and indeed internationally – attracting attention from places as close as Scotland and as far away as Australia and Pakistan. What has been especially welcomed is the positive but firm tone of the campaign.
Frontline training and mobile App
The third strand of the Project involved the development of a mobile application, or ‘app’, aimed at frontline professionals. The aim of this strand was to develop clear, plain English information materials targeting professionals who are not experts in trafficking but who may encounter a person who has been or is vulnerable to trafficking. Training courses entitled ‘Introduction to good practice in Identifying and Responding to Victims of Sex Trafficking were delivered to frontline professionals (multi-disciplinary audiences) in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland and these sessions served to inform the material/information for the APP.
This information will be accessed through a user-friendly app which is available to professionals working with vulnerable persons including those in health, social work, law enforcement and immigration. Having access to the app professionals will be equipped to respond to disclosures/signs of trafficking or exploitation in an appropriate manner and guide potential victims to the relevant services and supports available. The app has been developed, tested and the final product has been submitted for uploading to the various platforms i.e. Android, Windows and Apple. Approval to upload to the various platforms can take some time, however it is currently available on the Andriod platform via the Google Play Store.
The app addresses four simple, but key, questions that professionals often asked themselves when faced with a potential/suspected case of sex trafficking:
There is also an accompanying booklet for the app which is being and will continue to be widely disseminated to relevant frontline professionals over the coming months and which is available on the REACH Project website www.reachproject.eu.