Holly Taylor is a volunteer with The A21 Campaign in Northern Ireland and has been real a catalyst for change here. A21 carries out awareness-raising work in many countries, and the case work is growing in number, both in and out of the EU. When she’s not changing the world, Holly loves to sing and is also studying for her 6 AS-levels. You can follow HOlly on Twitter here.
I spoke to Holly to find out more about how hearing about human trafficking broke her heart.
Hi, Holly! Thanks for agreeing to talk to me. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello! My name is Holly and I’m 16 years old. I am in my penultimate year of secondary school and I am currently studying: History, Spanish, English Literature, Religious Education and Law. I enjoy playing the piano and singing and I am actively involved in church activities.
How did you first become aware of human trafficking?
I first became aware of human trafficking when I heard Helen Cupples (The A21 Campaign’s advocate for Northern Ireland) speak about it in my church. When Helen spoke, this was the first time I had ever heard of human trafficking and it broke my heart.
What is it about human trafficking that affects you the most?
Human trafficking is a global crime that affects every country. It horrified me that people, including young girls and boys the same age as me – and even younger – were being sold in slavery and into the sex industry. I was thirteen-years-old when I first heard about human trafficking and it shocked me that human trafficking is one of the world’s largest organised crimes. (NB: it is the second largest and the fastest growing illegal trade.) It is an injustice that shouldn’t exist in modern society, but unfortunately it does. Especially here in Northern Ireland.
How did you get involved in fighting against trafficking?
I held a fundraiser in my junior hight school to raise awareness of human trafficking. Through this event God opened many doors for The A21 Campaign and the local mayor chose A21 as one of his charities. I’m continuing to raise awareness, and in school I continue to use every opportunity I can to tell people about human trafficking by speaking in assembly and from general conversations.
Tell me about The A21 campaign.
The A21 Campaign stands for abolishing injustice in the 21st century. A21 work tirelessly to rescue people from slavery (sexual exploitation and forced labour) and to put an end to injustice. I love how they operate all over the world, even here in Northern Ireland! They raise awareness in many countries and do case work on the ground in Ukraine, Greece, Bulgaria, the United States and Australia.
The A21 Campaign – through prevention, victim protection, prosecution of traffickers, and partnerships – work to rescue, rebuild and restore trafficked victims’ lives. You can find out more about The A21 Campaign here.
Tomorrow (18th October) is EU Anti-Slavery Day. What are A21 doing to mark the day?
A21 will be marking Anti-Slavery Day in various countries across Europe doing a variety of different things. Here in Northern Ireland there are many events taking place. I will be taking an assembly in my school and other A21 representatives here will be doing the same. There are also many other people raising awareness through public events such as outreach.
Human trafficking can seem like such an overwhelming problem. How would you recommend others get involved?
I would love to encourage you to use what is in your hand, as every bit of awareness raised makes such a difference and can hugely impact a person’s life! There are 27 million people enslaved worldwide and although this may seem like an overwhelming statistic, break all the numbers down so it represents ONE person, ONE name, ONE face. Do it for the ONE.
Thanks so much, Holly!
(Photo via The A21 Campaign)