Sexual Assault Support Centre fields 78 calls for anti-human trafficking program in first year
Centre looking to hire a second counsellor to help meet demand in the region
The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region is looking to grow its anti-human trafficking program after receiving 78 calls for support in its first year.
The program launched last January to help anyone experiencing sexual exploitation or those at risk of being trafficked.
SASC is now looking to hire another counsellor to meet the growing demand.
"I was hopeful that we would get the word out about this program, because it was really new last year and we're so glad, but we did not expect to have [those] high numbers come in," co-ordinator Nicky Carswell said.
Carswell, who is currently the program's only counsellor, said the clients she works with are predominantly young women between the ages of 14 and 18 who have been recruited into the sex trade by a boyfriend.
She helps clients with everything from crisis support and personalized safety plans, to housing and navigating the legal system.
The program also connects survivors of human trafficking with other services in the region.
Carswell said it's been a challenging job, especially with so much demand for the program.
"The need in our community is a lot higher than we have the resources for," Carswell said.
"And every client who calls, if they've experienced human trafficking, they've experienced a significant amount of trauma and they're coming to me with really high, complex needs."
Carswell said the additional counsellor will help the program maintain the level of care for each client and meet the needs of the community.