The charity Retrak, which helps street children into safe new lives, is to become part of anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice.
Bringing together the two organisations will provide a more effective force to identify and rescue vulnerable people of all ages from modern slavery, to help them heal into new lives in freedom, and to campaign for change.
The missions, aims and programmes of Retrak and Hope for Justice are highly complementary, making the two charities an ideal fit. Street children are incredibly vulnerable to trafficking and are often targeted by predatory gangs who force them into sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced labour.
Helping street children and getting them to safe, caring families massively reduces their vulnerability to predatory traffickers. As part of Hope for Justice, Retrak will continue its world-class outreach and aftercare work with individuals, and will work for structural reform.
The combined organisation will be active on four continents: Europe, Africa, North America and Asia. Best practice from both organisations will allow improvements in frontline programmes, and the enhanced size and scope will translate into a bigger impact on the global stage when campaigning and advocating for change at the national and international level, while reducing management and support costs.
Hope for Justice CEO, Ben Cooley, is now CEO of Retrak. Retrak’s previous CEO, Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, has become Director of Structural Reform at Hope for Justice. His role will be to engage directly with governments, agencies and relevant organisations to improve the national and global response to trafficking.
CEO of Hope for Justice, Ben Cooley, who co-founded the charity in 2008, said: “We are thrilled and excited to welcome Retrak into the Hope for Justice family. This gives us an opportunity to serve more people in a sustainable and replicable way, and to bring on board immense amounts of frontline experience, insight and knowledge.
“This integration gives us the ability to help more adults and more children who have been walking through some of the darkest days – to give them hope and to give them justice. There will be challenges to overcome and hurdles to clear, but we will go forward in strength and unity, because freedom is worth the fight.”
The two charities now share a common board of trustees. For the time being, the two charities remain legally separate organisations, but the trustees and directors are beginning a long-term transition programme aimed at achieving an eventual full merger.
Around the world, both charities’ frontline work will continue to go from strength to strength as best practice, experience, knowledge and insight are shared.
Globally, the joint organisation will have nearly 300 staff, including around 50 staff in Uganda and more than 120 in Ethiopia, whose fantastic work will continue.
In Ethiopia, Retrak runs transition centres, community prevention programmes, educational and outreach ‘stay safe’ initiatives and other projects across Addis Ababa, Hosanna and Sodo. In the city of Hosanna, Retrak also works with partner charity Love In Action on outreach and prevention with sex workers.
In Uganda, Retrak runs community prevention programmes in Wakiso and the capital Kampala, transit centres across Kampala and family reintegration projects, and works with Child Restoration Outreach in the city of Mbale.
Retrak also works in other countries in Africa through partner charities including Child Rescue Kenya, Volunteers for Vulnerable Children in Zimbabwe, and Chisomo Children’s Club in Malawi.
Retrak’s UK head office in Cheadle Hulme has closed, with staff transferred to Hope for Justice headquarters in central Manchester.
Sir Peter Fahy said: “Becoming part of the Hope for Justice family will create an organisation which can impact on the full spectrum of trafficking and modern slavery – from the rural village where family separation takes place through to the city streets which children are at serious risk of exploitation and trafficking, through to Europe where young people in particular end up trapped in forced labour and sex work.
“It brings together Retrak’s great strength in preventative work with Hope for Justice’s strengths in rescuing victims and structural reform.
“Both charities have strengths in working with law enforcement agencies and state bodies, but at the heart of both organisations is the belief in reintegration through a process of support and restoration.”
Retrak’s staff have identified growing evidence of trafficking in their work with street children, as they work to transform these highly vulnerable children’s lives, to preserve families, empower communities and give each of them a voice.
Hope for Justice is active in the UK, Cambodia, USA and Norway, working to bring an end to modern slavery via a three-strand programme of Rescue, Restore and Reform:-
RESCUE: Investigators work closely with police and other agencies to identify victims of modern slavery, build bridges of trust with them and intervene to remove them from exploitation.
RESTORE: The charity’s multi-disciplinary advocacy team provide victim-centred support, including help to access housing, benefits, employment, mental health support and legal assistance. They support victims through criminal and civil justice process to ensure they receive restitution. In Cambodia, Hope for Justice runs a unique assessment and crisis intervention centre for the immediate post-rescue period, plus long-term residential, educational and reintegration projects for survivors.
REFORM: Hope for Justice trains frontline professionals – including police, NHS, homeless shelter staff, NGOs, community groups and many others – to spot the signs of modern slavery and to respond effectively. It also campaigns to raise public awareness in order to create societies hostile to modern slavery, believing strongly that awareness leads to action. It works with legislators and governments to improve the laws around trafficking and to better support victims. The charity also works with the business sector, offering tailored business and supply chain solutions that prevent modern slavery, building competitive advantage through strengthened public profile, customer confidence and compliance.
Hope for Justice’s headquarters is in Manchester, with investigative hubs, outposts offices and projects in West Yorkshire; the West Midlands; Northumberland; Scotland; Stavanger, Norway; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Nashville, Tennessee.