18 October 2013
The British Red Cross has been called in by the police service to support victims of trafficking in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.
A rest centre was set up on 15 October following raids on three sites in Wisbech, March and King’s Lynn.
Initially, the centre provided shelter for 80 people while alternative accommodation was found and other arrangements made for their continuing welfare.
Working in shifts, more than 50 Red Cross volunteers have been on hand 24-hours a day to provide practical necessities. Besides providing food and refreshments, they also handed out 200 hygiene packs, 100 towels, 30 pairs of wellington boots, hats and gloves, and fresh items of clothing.
The volunteers have also been giving much-needed emotional support and a friendly listening ear for those wanting to talk about their experiences. Our international family tracing service also enabled a father to speak to his child and partner in Latvia.
Following the raids, Chief Inspector Mike Winters told BBC News: "Victims are promised a better life in the UK, but often end up in over-crowded accommodation and in debt to a gangmaster who controls their affairs."
Simon Holmes, emergency response manager, is pleased with the Red Cross’ response to the incident. He said: “Our volunteers are well trained for these situations, and have given much-needed support to these extremely vulnerable people.
“We quickly established an environment where they felt safe and have ensured all their practical needs were met.”