The Amies project (French for female friends) was established in 2011 to provide creative arts workshops for young women trafficked into the UK for prostitution or domestic slave labour. Three groups meet weekly to make friends, learn new skills and get creative together. We sing, dance, perform, share stories and laugh a lot…
Funded by Comic Relief, this project has helped up to 60 young women a year overcome obstacles in their lives and move forward. The workshops we provide empower the women to rediscover their confidence and aspirations, leading to engagement in education, training and employment.
‘Amies has taught me how to trust people again.’ Amies Participant, 2013
‘The future is now showing lots of colours, rainbow colours. Before it wasn’t showing any colours. Amies has helped me… things that I’ve wished to happen is coming my way. I’m going to be doing my access course to Uni for next year [I want to be a] social worker. I’ve got a job so I’ll be starting working on Tuesday.’ Amies Participant 2013
Victims of trafficking only receive 45 days of compulsory ‘reflection and recovery’ support from the UK government when they have escaped their captors, before having to start their new life. This is not long enough! These women require more long-term support. The Amies London Project provides this support in London and we have established the Amies Broadstairs Group in a refuge in Kent.
THE AMIES FREEDOM CHOIR
After several years of including singing in the Amies London project it was decided to set up a separate choir. Funded by Youth Music, the Amies Freedom Choir meets weekly to sing together. The choir aims to develop the musical and cultural awareness of young women from different ethnic backgrounds by exploring songs and musical styles from each others' cultures and languages, working with Pan artists and professional musicians from different regional traditions. The choir is working on building a repertoire of songs, vocal and choral skills as well as developing musical and cultural understanding.
As their musicality grows the choir is increasingly invited to perform at events. While this seems impossible to some of the women when they first meet, their confidence grows quickly and they have performed at the Old Bailey, at City Hall, at the Horniman Museum, at Kings Place, for the Desmond Tutu Foundation and many more. Their singing is beautiful and incredibly moving.