The association HOPE FOR THE FUTURE offers people in prostitution or those affected by human trafficking a programme to prepare for a professional new start. Work integration for those affected is particularly challenging. Experience has shown that especially for women and men who have been victims of sexual exploitation, it is hardly possible to return to the labour market without preparatory measures.
After the traumatic experiences in the various forms of exploitation the first focus is mental health and creating a stable environment so that the survivors can slowly find their way back into a regular everyday life. The workshop programme provides those affected with various skills that they need for an alternative professional future. Part of this programme is the sewing workshop.
LEARNING TO SEW AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO FIND A NEW PERSPECTIVE
The access to the sewing workshops at HOPE FOR THE FUTURE are designed to be very low-threshold so that people without any prior knowledge can participate. The trainees start with quite simple workpieces and gradually develop the skills to cope with complex, creative pieces. They are guided by fashion designer Malihe, who has been working as a sewing trainer for our association since 2017.
The work in the sewing workshop is a preparation measure for a future job beyond exploitation and violence. The trainees experience respectful interaction with one another and learn about transparent working conditions. Furthermore, they learn how a structured day-to-day job routine works. For many, this is a completely new experience after years of competition and survival. Many had already stopped planning for the longer term. Making a workpiece in the sewing workshop thus becomes a symbol for setting goals and learning that it is worth sticking to them. For example, if you learn to sew a rucksack without any prior knowledge you will experience how something beautiful and useful can be created with your own hands from different and unique materials. Anyone who has never sewn before can experience what it is like when their own workpiece is being noticed and bought in our web shop. It gives them courage that other endeavours will also succeed. Sewing is a creative process that involves the mind and body. It enables trainees to focus on their skills and explore what interests they would like to pursue in the future. On this basis, work integration can succeed.
THE SEWING WORKSHOP AS A ‘ANCHORAGE’ ON THE PATH TOWARDS A NEW FUTURE
A major part of the sewing trainers’ job is to not only teach the trainees the technical skills of sewing, but to also find the time to talk to each of the trainees individually. They must find the right balance between working time and when it is time to talk or take a break. The trainers offer a regulated structure and clarity about the framework and the process. This gives the trainees the security they need to build up trust step by step. After experiencing violence and exploitation, those affected have mostly lost all trust in other people and hardly believe that they can learn anything new or that they can survive in the legal labour market.
While learning to sew, the trainees can build up self-esteem, strengthen social skills and learn how to be patient, punctual and reliable. In addition to working in the sewing workshop, the other components of the workshop programme are just as important: German courses, basic knowledge of word processing and self-empowerment training give the trainees the opportunity to learn what they need to successfully integrate into the labour market. The sewing workshop is the ‘anchorage’ for the trainees’ transformation process. It is the starting point from which they can gather themselves, sound out the necessary changes in their lives and find their way into an alternative, non-violent world of work. They learn what it means to work with superiors who show them respect, to be part of a team and to adhere to the general conditions of an employment relationship.
THE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE WORKSHOP PROGRAMME – A FRAMEWORK THAT CREATES A VERY VALUABLE WORKFORCE
The graduates of the workshop programme at HOPE FOR THE FUTURE have particularly valuable skills. Anyone who has dared to seek support in order to move past a violent and exploitative situation has extraordinary abilities that are extremely valuable. It takes a great deal of courage and perseverance to find the willingness to learn something new despite severe trauma. The graduates have proven that they can show perseverance in a multicultural team. Despite numerous hurdles, they completed the production of the workpieces for sale in our online shop and have trained and expanded their skills in other areas. They have demonstrated a willingness to work, an openness to new ideas, resilience and the ability to cope with crises.
You can support the work of HOPE FOR THE FUTURE in many ways and ensure that even more people can start their non-violent future in this way!
Translated by Sophie Kitchen