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Trafficked young people get specialist help

Fidelma O'Hagan, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney Deirdre Coyle, at the launch of Law Centre (NI)'s new legal and policy support service for young people who have been trafficked

Fidelma O’Hagan, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney and Deirdre Coyle at Law Centre (NI) launch of the new anti-trafficking young people project.

Law Centre (NI) has launched a new anti-trafficking project.

Project worker Fidelma O'Hagan explains how this new service, aimed at young people up to the age of 25, is meeting an important need:

'Increasing numbers of victims of human trafficking are being identified in Northern Ireland. Every year, this includes a small number of children and young people. Children and young people who are trafficked into Northern Ireland face real hurdles in getting the support they need to navigate a complex system and enjoy their legal rights.

'The first of its kind in Northern Ireland, this project allows Law Centre (NI) to work to ensure that every young person who is a victim of trafficking in Northern Ireland receives the guidance and assistance he or she need, through our legal advice and representation service.
'We are very grateful to Comic Relief for the support that enables us to provide this specialist, dedicated service.'

Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, and Deirdre Coyle of Children and Family Services, Health and Social Care Board, spoke at the launch today, emphasising why this project is important.

Patricia Lewsley-Mooney said:

'While official figures report a relatively small number of trafficked children here, we also know that there may be more children who arrive here and others who go missing within Northern Ireland who are never captured by our recording processes.

'The process that every trafficked child goes through must seek to protect them when they are facing a very frightening time. The Anti-Trafficking Children and Young People Project at Law Centre (NI) will support this vulnerable and often invisible group of young people.

'It offers skills and expertise to listen to, advise and support trafficked children to help them enjoy the rights they are entitled to through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.'

The launch was well attended, highlighting the extent of interest in the issue of anti-trafficking work in Northern Ireland.

The creation of the Anti-trafficking and Young People Project enables the Law Centre to focus expertise through the provision of specialist legal advice and representation to young victims of trafficking aged between 11 and 25, as well as by providing information and policy responses on identified issues.

The advice line is open Monday to Friday 9.30am - 1.00pm (028) 9024 4401.

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