Finding a home for Ella
A BMS World Mission-supported project to help trafficked women in London is almost ready to go. It just needs a building.
Your life is a mess. Your self-esteem is shot to bits. You’re afraid, you’re ill and you’re vulnerable. What do you need?
You need help. You need medical attention, a safe space to live and an opportunity to unravel the damage that has been done to you in the name of pleasure and profit. Most of all, you need time.
Many women in the UK who have escaped the trauma of being trafficked into the sex industry do get help. But, due to a lack of money and resources, they often don’t get the time to truly turn their lives around and so can end up either homeless or back working in a brothel.
BMS is supporting Ella’s Home, a new project that will offer trafficked sex workers the hope of a new life and the time they need to help achieve it.
Government funding allows women who have been assessed and recognised as victims of trafficking by the National Referral Mechanism a 45 day ‘reflection period’ and support from an aftercare provider. Ella’s Home will work with women on the basis of their individual needs, with the more realistic target of a minimum three month period of recovery.
The women who stay at Ella’s Home (four to five at a time) will have a range of skilled volunteers such as counsellors, doctors and barristers, to assist them in their recovery. They will also have the opportunity to learn baking and life skills through the Luminous Bakery at Kahaila, a thriving church and coffee shop in Brick Lane.
Emily Chalke has co-founded Ella’s Home, inspired by Ella*, a sex worker she originally met when she was serving with BMS and NightLight in Bangkok’s red light district.
Emily helped Ella when Ella ended up working in a brothel in London and was seriously ill. Emily found that Ella did not get the time and support she needed to turn her life around. Ella returned to her home country in the end, but Emily was determined to help others like her.
“People think that if you’ve been trafficked and get out of it, that’s the end of the story,” says Emily. “But there’s so much work to be done, re-understanding who you are and healing your self-image. Without that, it is very easy to end up back in exploitation.”
Since founding Ella’s Home, Emily has been bowled over by the support she has received. She now has a database of volunteers to help her when the home opens. Referral forms have been sent to anti-trafficking organisations who have responded very positively. They often struggle to find appropriate places to send women for further aftercare and have told Emily they welcome the arrival of Ella’s Home.
Everything is ready, except a home for Ella’s Home. Finding a suitable place that is not too expensive has proved difficult. Last week an offer was put on a house but they were gazumped. Emily is hopeful they will soon find an appropriate place where they can begin restoring the dignity of damaged women.
“I hope that Ella’s Home will be able to give women a real chance at freedom,” says Emily, “a way to build their life again, to truly get out of a cycle of exploitation.”
Pray that a house can be found for Ella’s Home, so trafficked women can get the help they desperately need.
Ella’s Home is part of the Dignity initiative. Learn more about how you and your church can take a stand against gender based violence.
*Not her real name
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission