30 January 2018 IN: Ministers
Richard Curtis’s film, Love Actually, speaks of the airport arrivals hall as a place where “love is everywhere”. It’s true – but not for everyone.
Some arrive at Manchester already exposed to exploitation, coercion or threats of violence. Others arrive with great expectations, having been enticed by offers of legitimate-sounding jobs, only to find reality in the UK much less appealing.
Manchester Airport chaplaincy works closely with the police and Border Force, often serving as ‘responsible adults’ for minors or vulnerable adults when detained or interviewed. It also receives referrals from the Forced Marriage Unit, which repatriates survivors of imprisonment and isolation abroad back to the UK.
17 SECONDS TO SAVE A LIFE
Border Force staff called a chaplain after midnight to be present for a safeguarding interview with a 17 year old Hungarian girl, thought to be a potential victim of trafficking. In the 17 seconds that immigration officers have (on average) to make a judgement, the officer decided to do some background checks on her and her travelling companion (an older man).
Checks revealed the male’s history of prosecution for trafficking and prostitution. A missing-person report had been filed with Hungarian police by the girl’s concerned mother.
Result: the boyfriend was arrested and the girlfriend refused entry to the UK for her own protection. Remember that when tempted to complain about the length of immigration queues!
WE’RE ON YOUR SIDE
Manchester Airport, its airlines, companies and community work together to protect vulnerable passengers from illegal exploitation through Travel Safe, which equips staff to spot the signs and respond to potential exploitation. The campaign also raises public awareness through posters, leaflets and screens in 20 languages, communicating that airport staff are on the side of the most vulnerable.
Manchester Councillor, Sameem Ali, spoke about her experience as a young girl: “I was taken to Pakistan [against my will] aged 13... I didn’t know that I could approach staff at the airport.
“I wish there was something like this back then. Maybe, I would have been saved from the pain that I had to go through. I want to tell young people at risk of being taken out of the country that there are staff at the airport who they can approach.”