Partner Exchange in Coventry - Conference Report

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From the 11th to the 14th June 2012 COMBAT Project partners met in Coventry in the UK to share their experiences, their knowledge and their practice in the Pan-European fight against trafficking; specifically the trafficking of children and young women.

This partner exchange was hosted by CSWP [Coventry, Solihull & Warwickshire Partnership] – lead partner in the COMBAT Project.
A Civic Reception hosted by Councillor Gary Crookes, Deputy Lord Mayor, attracted a diverse audience of anti-traffickers including David Dilnut, the Head of the UKHTC [United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre] and Sheila Taylor MBE, Head of the National Working Group on Child Sexual Exploitation. Alongside cross party Local Councillors there were representatives of West Midlands Police, UK Border Agency and Border Force, Safeguarding Children’s Boards, Youth Offending Services and NGO’s and charities working in anti-trafficking across the West Midlands. There was a chaired panel debate on trafficking following a presentation by project partners and colleagues from Bulgaria and Lithuania.

This Civic Reception attracted news coverage from the BBC and featured as the lead news story on ‘Midlands Today’ on the evening of Tuesday 12th June. There was also good coverage in Local Newspapers.

Partners were able to attend an extraordinary meeting of the Regional Anti-Trafficking Network convened at St Peter’s Centre in Hillfields where practitioners fighting trafficking across the West Midlands were able to hear of the work of COMBAT partners and debate the issues.
Partners were welcomed to CSWP HQ by CEO Steve Stewart MBE, attended a COMBAT Steering Board Meeting and spoke with representatives of the Safeguarding Children’s Boards for Coventry, Solihull & Warwickshire.

Partners took part in a COMBAT training session which was well attended by professionals [all National Referral Mechanism First Responders to the UKHTC].

Filming took place at ‘Central Vision’ in Coventry for the commissioned COMBAT film and partners toured CSWP HQ and met key staff.

Free time allowed partners a brief visit to Warwick and a meal at a typical English Pub and also a visit to Medieval Spon Street in Coventry with a meal at a renowned Indian restaurant.

This exchange visit was certainly a learning experience; a cross-cultural fertilisation enabling practitioners from one side of Europe to another to build their toolkits in the fight against trafficking.
We would like to thank and congratulate the EU Daphne fund for facilitating this exchange thereby strengthening the fight against trafficking across the EU and we would also like to thank the Daphne appointed evaluation team from Coventry University, Professor Hazel Barrett and her Research Assistant, Dr David Beecham, for their involvement, encouragement and observations throughout the exchange.