20 years of assistance and support
Assistance & Support is the core activity within La Strada and the main reason for its existence. The aim is to provide trafficked persons with the support and assistance they need to regain their freedom and to take back control over their lives. Their needs, views and concerns form the basis of the assistance provided and underlie all other work. Direct contact with the trafficked persons gives the different La Strada teams insight into their experiences. It is their rights and interests that La Strada aims to defend.
Over the past 20 years, more than 230 000 calls have been received on La Strada hotlines (the hotline calls of La Strada Netherlands are not collected and therefore not included in the overview below) and more than 24 000 people have been provided with direct assistance.
Within the La Strada programme, local, national and international networks have been created to assist trafficked persons, to ensure their safe return and to support them in regaining control over their lives. Assistance includes social, psychological and emotional assistance, health care, support during court proceedings, legal aid, housing and individual advocacy.
Programmes aim for the empowerment and social inclusion of trafficked persons either in the country of destination or in their home country. Important elements of social inclusion are access to housing, social protection, health care, education and employment.
All La Strada members run a hotline, some of which are free of charge and open 24 hours a day. The hotlines are an important tool for getting in touch with people who have been trafficked and are in need of advice or assistance. Also, family members, friends or clients of (possible) victims can call the hotlines for information and advice or to enlist help. If they wish, callers can remain anonymous to keep the threshold as low as possible. The hotline consultants can provide information on destination countries and useful telephone numbers. They can give safety tips and offer help if needed. They can organise practical, psychological, medical and legal support, refer victims to shelters, assist in restoring personal documents, make contact with the family of a victim if s/he wishes so, and conduct crisis intervention. If a person who is currently in a situation of trafficking calls, the consultant can give her/him emotional support, discuss the options, support her/him in making a plan of action or help her/him in deciding whether to try to escape, with all risks attached, or try to survive in another way.
People contact La Strada directly, for example through the hotlines, or are referred to La Strada by other agencies, such as other (local or foreign) NGOs, social workers, street workers or international organisations. Trafficked persons may also be identified by law enforcement agencies, such as police, border guards and prosecutors. In order to ensure the adequate identification and referral of victims, all La Strada members seek to establish cooperative links with these agencies. They also organise training courses for the police in order to enhance adequate identification and referral.
Some La Strada organisations have a public address and are directly accessible for trafficked persons and other individuals and agencies concerned. Other La Strada organisations work with a secret address and can only be contacted by telephone.