On the 30th March Tesco Borough Community Champions held a bespoke employability workshop for victims of human trafficking from both Caritas Bakhita House and Sophie Hayes Foundation as part of the continuing effort to support these women into independent living. The workshop came about as a result of Karen Anstiss, Caritas Bakhita House Manager meeting Debbie Briody, Tesco Community Champion through another project they are both involved in.
Through Debbie and Rianne Black-Foster, a fellow Tesco community champion, and Naomi Telfer of the Sophie Hayes Foundation, Tesco was able to offer something that takes relatively few resources, but has great effect. The workshop, which was tailored specifically for these women and their needs, was not designed just to teach them employment skills but to show them the importance and dignity of work. Debbie described how she and Rianne saw the girls grow in confidence throughout the day, partly because they were learning valuable skills, but mostly, because of hearing the testimonies of those who have succeeded in a work environment despite experiencing difficult situations themselves, which demonstrated to the participants that there is no reason they should not achieve the same.
Tesco often use the phrase ‘what good looks like’ and this shaped the programme of the workshop. Through small group work on interview skills and online job applications, it was emphasised that a willingness to work hard was more important to Tesco than good grades, or having the loudest voice, something that instilled confidence in the women.
The day had a comfortable atmosphere, with the women sharing their opinions, asking questions and expressing doubts freely.
The women from Caritas Bakhita House were invited because of their English language skills, but Karen hopes that the partnership with Tesco will continue, and that other women will be able to benefit.
Karen and Debbie met through the Through The Looking Glass Salon and Frankie Cox. The salon is currently supporting Caritas Bakhita House as its project for the year, with clients donating toiletries for the women who live there. Through this partnership Karen is able to spread the word about the essential services that Caritas Bakhita House provides. Frankie Cox has also become a volunteer at the house furthering the community of people supporting these women.
The Sophie Hayes foundation works to ‘empower survivors of trafficking to build hope filled futures’
Their programme is a confidence and employability programme called ‘Day 46’, comprising of workshops, one-to-one coaching and a bespoke vocational experience. They partner with businesses like Tesco to create opportunities that assist the learning and development of the people they work with, increasingly their likelihood of future employment and independence.
Although unfamiliar to most people, Tesco Community Champions offer valuable help and resources to groups throughout the UK. The community champion works to ensure Tesco is ‘a great neighbour that can bring genuine benefit to the local community’. They offer what any good neighbour does, only on a larger scale: staff volunteering their time, facilitating fundraising and assistance planning events in their stores, and, as demonstrated by the work they did with Caritas Bakhita House, anything they can reasonably do to help in the community. One of the major benefits of community champions is having someone working on your behalf in an organisation as big Tesco.
What started off as a conversation between Debbie, Rianne, Naomi and Karen has borne fruit in a successful day. They hope to continue working together to help women who have had so much taken from them look towards the future.