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The IRC in Tallahassee: Human trafficking in the Panhandle

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The IRC in Tallahassee will host a series of community events during January, designated through Presidential Proclamation as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. These events will engage Tallahassee communities in dialogue designed to elevate the voices of survivors of human trafficking, increase awareness of human trafficking and educate the community about ways to prevent it. 

In partnership with service providers, law enforcement agencies, experts and thought leaders, the IRC will host a series of virtual panel discussions starting on January 18, 2020 and ending on January 31, 2020. Panel participants will share a wide array of perspectives, aiming to address the intersectionality of human trafficking and gender rights, immigration and labor, culture and stigma and more. Panel discussions will be free and open to the public. 

Photo: IRC

Stay tuned for details regarding the upcoming panel discussions. If you are interested in participating as a panelist or you are a community leader and would like for your group to participate, please contact Chandler Swenson at chandler.swenson [at] rescue.org (subject: Information%20about%20January%20panel%20discussion)  

The panel discussions will contribute to the overall awareness and growing knowledge of human trafficking throughout northwest Florida. This area of the state has few identified service providers and currently does not have a robust public approach to combating and preventing human trafficking. 

This lack of awareness and access prevents the advancement of solutions but most urgently, it contributes to survivors of human trafficking going unnoticed, with their cases unreported and with few supportive services. Survivors of human trafficking are often scattered throughout other groups, belonging to multiple groups that may not be traditionally viewed as at-risk populations. For example, survivors of human trafficking can be workers in a tobacco field, students at a university or a neighbor experiencing domestic abuse. Creating widespread awareness of human trafficking among communities is the best approach to identifying survivors, generating public interest in prevention, and creating access points for individuals to seek help. 

We are taking action!

We recognize that the expansion of our geographical service area is needed and will enable us to serve survivors in northwest Florida. 

In partnership with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) and their Regional Navigator program, the IRC in Tallahassee will begin to provide emergency response to survivors, coordinate with existing service providers to leverage resources and increase capacity to serve survivors of trafficking across Bay, Okaloosa and Escambia Counties starting in November. Additionally, the IRC will develop a resource guide that will include domestic violence centers, local sexual assault response teams, children’s advocacy centers and service provider organizations in areas where survivors reside. These initial steps will lay the foundation of a coordinated and effective response to generating community awareness, preventing human trafficking and providing urgent support to survivors seeking to escape harm, heal and rebuild their lives. 

If you are a service provider for survivors of human trafficking located in Bay, Okaloosa and Escambia Counties, please contact Kristina Bailey at Kristina.Bailey [at] Rescue.org (subject: Regional%20Navigator)  for more information.  

To report suspected human trafficking or to obtain resources for victims, please call 1-888-373-7888; text “BeFree” (233733); or live chat at HumanTraffickingHotline.org. The toll-free phone, SMS text lines, and online chat function are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Help is available in English, Spanish, Creole, or in more than 200 additional languages. The National Hotline is not managed by law enforcement, immigration or an investigative agency. Correspondence with the National Hotline is confidential and you may request assistance or report a tip anonymously. 

To learn more about the work of the IRC in Florida and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, JC Torres, at Juan.Torres [at] Rescue.org or 786-325-6257. 

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