Charity Champion or Volunteer of the Year/Community Group of the Year nominee – Ann Grainger/Voice of Hope
Ann Grainger has dedicated her life to tackling human trafficking and modern slavery after her Staffordshire University dissertation opened her eyes to the scale of the problem.
She founded a charity, Voice of Hope, has gone on to deliver awareness sessions for 20,000 practitioners around Stoke-on-Trent and delivered school sessions to more than 4,000 young people in the past 18 months in partnership with Staffordshire Police.
“William Wilberforce said that you can look the other way but you’ll never again say that you didn’t know, and that’s how I feel about human trafficking and modern slavery,” said Ann. “Once I realised how big this is I couldn’t walk away.”
Ann, from Milton, is now CEO of the Stoke-on-Trent charity that has a team of three staff and is recruiting for a fourth.
She set up Voice of Hope in 2015 which coincided with Staffordshire Police establishing its modern slavery division, so they collaborated from the very beginning.
Ann and her team raise awareness amongst practitioners, work with young people, signpost people reporting modern slavery or human trafficking and even step in to help people who have been taken to safe houses because they are believed to be the victims of modern slavery or human trafficking. They have now started to raise awareness of the criminal exploitation of homeless people.
“It was all because of a news article on TV,” said Ann. “I thought this can’t be happening today in the 21st Century. At the time it was quite a rare subject and it intrigued me. When I researched what was going on in our sophisticated world I couldn’t believe it.
“I thought if this is growing at such a pace I have to do something. My grandson was born around the same time and I thought what a world he’ll grow up in if someone doesn’t stand up and raise their voice. That’s where the name of the charity came from.”
Ann has been nominated as a Charity Champion of Volunteer of the Year and Voice of Hope has been nominated as a Community Group of the Year in the Your Heroes Awards.
Making the nomination Melissa Dickinson said: “Ann had a vision and recognised that modern slavery and human trafficking was an increasing crime that was consistently increasing in our local area. Working tirelessly to establish the charity, Ann has successfully grown the charity to what it is today.
“It could be argued that Ann is doing her job, but what makes a difference is the way Ann does, the compassion she shows for the people she supports and her commitment to the charity. That’s why I believe Ann and the charity deserve a nomination.”