Hope for Justice’s Executive Director of Programmes, Enrique Restoy, had the privilege of meeting Sir Mo Farah, a multiple Olympic, World and European champion athlete, who has previously spoken out about his trafficking experiences as a child.
The world’s most successful male track distance runner was speaking at the annual Anti-Slavery Day Awards held in the House of Commons, Westminster. Enrique Restoy, our Executive Director of Programmes (pictured above), said after meeting him: “Sir Mo Farah didn’t need to risk everything – his status, his livelihood, his identity, even his freedom – to speak out and explain that he was trafficked into the UK, nor share about the dreadful exploitation he endured trapped in modern slavery, but he did. And Sir Mo keeps raising awareness about the trafficking of children, women and men into slavery today on our doorsteps in the UK and in all other countries in the world.
“Sir Mo didn’t need to come to the Anti-Slavery Day Awards 2022, but he did. And that was such a boost to all those colleagues present who, day-in, day-out, work with extreme dedication and little reward to end modern slavery once and for all. Sir Mo’s modesty was only matched with the electricity he created in the room. He’s what I call a hero. Not to mention the fact that he’s also a four-time Olympic champion and six-time World Champion.”
Enrique Restoy told Sir Mo how important his testimony and story had been for young people around the world who are interested in sports, and who may not understand the reality of human trafficking. He added: “Sir Mo has also shed light on the dramatic reality for many people who end up being trafficked into another country in terrible conditions of exploitation, and who are afraid of being deported or persecuted. There are many children like Mo once was, who are out there being abused and exploited, right next to us. We need to find them – and they need to know that we are there to help them.”
The Anti-Slavery Day Awards 2022, organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery and the Human Trafficking Foundation, who invited Hope for Justice, celebrates the work done to highlight the issue of human trafficking. It honours those who have made an outstanding contribution to the fight against modern slavery, and journalists and media organisations whose reporting has made a significant impact. Hope for Justice is a former winner of the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Fight Against Modern Day Slavery’ award.
This year, ‘The Real Mo Farah’ documentary won Best Broadcast Programme at the awards ceremony. Sir Mo also won a Special Award – the Trustees Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Fight Against Modern Slavery – for his bravery in highlighting the issue of human trafficking and modern slavery. The BBC documentary about his story – telling how he was trafficked into the UK from Somaliland and forced into domestic servitude when he was a child – is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer (BBC One – The Real Mo Farah).
Hope for Justice’s CEO Tim Nelson was invited to speak on BBC News on 12th July following the revelation. He talked about the wider relevance of Sir Mo’s story, which is all too common in the UK and around the world.
We also signed an open letter (Sir Mo Farah’s bravery must inspire government to act for all victims), praising Sir Mo’s bravery and saying that it should inspire the UK government to act for other victims.
The full list of winners below and images are courtesy the Human Trafficking Foundation:
-HTF Trustee Awards for Outstanding Contribution in the Fight Against Modern Slavery: Sir Mo Farah & Dame Sara Thornton
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION WINNERS
-Reducing Vulnerabilities Award: Nusrat Uddin, Public Law Department at Wilson Solicitors LLP
-Rebuilding Lives Award: Valentina Spencer, Housing for Women
-Empowering Survivor Voices Award: Breaking the Chains Project, Shpresa Programme
-Statutory Services Award: DI Paul Wiggett, Metropolitan Police Service
-Best written opinion piece dealing with Modern Slavery Caroline Haughey, The Independent, ‘To Trample over the Intentions of the Modern Slavery Act is Reprehensible’ and Rowan Williams, The Times, ‘Government should be ashamed of Nationality and Borders Bill’
-Best news piece dealing with Modern Slavery, Angus Crawford and Tony Smith, BBC, ‘Homes for Ukraine: Housing Scheme called Danger to Refugees’
-Best investigative news article dealing with Modern Slavery Emiliano Mellino, Pete Pattisson and Rudra Pangeni, Bureau of Investigative Journalism & The Guardian, ‘Migrant fruit pickers charged thousands in illegal fees to work on UK farms, investigation shows’
-Best broadcast piece dealing with Modern Slavery Leo Burley and Hannah Richards BBC, ‘The Real Mo Farah’