Outreach provides HopeNow with a gateway to reaching possible and identified trafficked people and opens up a two-way path – we reach our target group and subsequently more of them reach us.
HopeNows has, since being founded in 2007, continued to develop the outreach work. We focus on many different areas depending on what is required at any one time. The groups for whom we are working are not stationary, but are mobile, at the traffickers’ or madams’ will. A key component of our work is therefore that we remain flexible and shift the focus of our outreach depending on where we are most needed. While the outreach activities we engage with change over time according to needs, our three main outreach activities are:
- Being present in the area around Istedgade and the Central Station in Copenhagen during the night to meet and talk with street workers
- Accompanying and refering individuals to the doctor, hospital and other health professionals
- Visiting the prisons, asylum centers and drop-in centers
We also accept invitations to many different places where men, women and also sometimes children, who are possible victims of trafficking are present. HopeNow’s outreach workers act as the bridge between the possible or identified trafficked person and the Danish authorities and the police.
We establish first contact with many individuals through the main outreach activities but also consider the other activities we do to be part of our outreach work.
The activities that we do are at the core of our mission and come in various forms (informal talks at a drop-in centers, language classes, beauty and make-up classes, attend social gatherings and such), as we respond to the target group’s needs and the trends in local and national politics.
When we arrange activities, the people we are in touch with tell others in their networks about the plans. If they are interested they come along, and we meet new faces, new relationships begin, new knowledge is generated and a greater number of potential victims end up being identified.
Most importantly, during the outreach work (in groups, through one-on-one contact, and through word-of-mouth within networks), we build trust, build capacity, impart skills and share knowledge so that the marginalised, stigmatised and often vulnerable and criminalised individuals we work with feel empowered to be able to change their life course for the better.
In order to disrupt human trafficking, the central focus of our outreach work with possible and identified victims is trust building.
HopeNow is committed to developing improved methods in social work. As such in consideration of the ethnic origins of the target group we work with, the outreach work is carried out by a team of volunteers and staff who have different ethnic, personal, professional and socio-cultural backgrounds. Unique to HopeNow is that we also work with a peer-group social worker who has been a victim of and survived being trafficked from Africa to Europe. We believe that this strategy cuts down the socio-cultural distance between our practitioners and the target group. Together with our human to human approach to interaction, we believe this methodological approach greatly facilitates trust building and results in a greater willingness among the vulnerable groups we work with to open up and share their experiences.
Trust-building happens over time, and so it is absolutely crucial to invest the time if possible victims of trafficking are to open up to being officially identified, and also if we are to gain more knowledge and understanding of the phenomenon of human trafficking. A focus on our methodology coupled with our long history of doing outreach work means that over the past 10 years, we have managed to build up strong relationships that are based on unique forms of trust with thousands of people who come directly to us, and who also recommend HopeNow to people they know. This trust means that we are able to keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening in an area which is notorious for been closed and secretive. It also increases our ability to carry out research which reflects the hyper-complex, multi-dimensional and ever-changing nature of human trafficking.