Here you’ll find a selection of news and stories reflecting the activities and events happening within SJOG.

New Apprentice at SJOG’s Head Office

Robert Mooney has recently joined SJOG in a new role for the charity: junior content producer.  A large focus on Robert’s role will be around our social media presence and producing videos to provide more accessible information for the people we support.

Robert has studied journalism at Leeds Trinity University, focusing on two major pieces of work, including his public affairs portfolio and dissertation on issues around neurological and developmental conditions. These projects have given him the grounding for some of the work he hopes to get involved with at SJOG.

For many years, Robert has had an interest in content and media but also social and political issues. As a social issues correspondent for Shout Out UK, an independent news network and political literacy training provider, working for a charity which helps people who need support was important to him. While at Shout Out UK, Robert wrote about topics from zero-hours contracts to the challenges of higher education for those with disabilities. 

“Having volunteered for a number of years, including as a member of Flying High, a group of young people with disabilities representing others in North Yorkshire similar to them, and also having epilepsy and hydrocephalus myself, I have a keen interest in the charity and its aims. Having previously been a team leader for vInspired (an independent charity dedicated to helping young people volunteer in their local communities), campaigning on a number of social issues, I am pleased to be bringing these experiences to a new role at SJOG.  I’m looking forward to contributing positively to SJOG and working independently carrying on what I’ve done at Flying High in recent months and standing up for the voices of those we support through my role as junior content producer.”

Celebrating International Volunteers Day

5 December 2019 is International Volunteers Day, and not only are we acknowledging all the wonderful volunteers we have working throughout our services, we're appealing for more. Staff from our Enfield services attended a local event celebrating how valuable volunteers are, especially for charities and care organisations, and letting people know about the wide range of volunteering opportunities we have at SJOG - from supporting people with activities to hosting a health drop in, helping with IT or helping out in local offices with administration. Or if you like the outdoors, our community gardening project in Welwyn Garden City is the perfect place.  For more information go to the volunteering section of our website or call 01325 373700.

Christmas has arrived at Digswell!

Digswell Community and Gardening Project in Welwyn Garden City is a unique space in Hertfordshire that provides people with opportunities in both garden related activities and social resources in the community. If you're local it's definitely the place to buy your Christmas tree and other lovely Christmas gifts. Digswell's Facebook page has lots more information 



"I saw myself in that container"

The death last month of 39 Vietnamese people in a truck that was trafficking them into the UK had particular resonance within SJOG.  Our services for victims of trafficking and modern day slavery across the country include a specific service in the north east for Vietnamese people.  All but one currently living in the house arrived here in the UK in a similar way – in a container lorry.

Some of the people in the service wanted to share their stories and working with our partners at the Salvation Army we’ve enabled this to happened.

Mr Nam (not his real name) told his story to journalist, Zoe Conway, which appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on 5 November.   His story can be heard at:  (starting at 2.39 and finishing at 2.46). Available until 3 December 2019.

Mr Nam, a young man in his early 20s, desperate for money, turned to a gang for help. The result was a harrowing journey in the confines of a box that took him from Vietnam to the Netherlands where he was put to work on a cannabis farm. After a year, he was then taken by the gang, transported once more in a container, to the UK, again having to work on cannabis farm, working sometimes more than 18 hours a day.  He eventually escaped and was cared for by the Salvation Army and is now supported by SJOG where he is beginning to rebuild his life.

Halloween Haunts at SJOG

Pictures speak louder than words and definitely so at Halloween.  Thankfully there was no competition as to the scariest outfit, spookiest decorations and spectacular pumpkins as there were too many to choose from, but without doubt, many of the people we support and who work for SJOG had a great time making Halloween special.

SJOG Marks Anti-Slavery Day - 18 October

On Anti- Slavery Day – 18 October, representatives of SJOG were invited to increase awareness in one of the local HSBC branches. Miguel Neves, National Lead for Homelessness and Modern Day Slavery and Pawel Zabielski, Service Manager – Olallo House, had the opportunity to speak about modern day slavery, SJOG’s modern day slavery and homelessness services and the legacy of Saint John of God with the staff and the bank’s customers. Why HSBC? Prior to HSBC’s Survivors’ Champions Scheme, the process to open bank accounts by people who had been trafficked was almost impossible, especially without ID. Even with ID and supporting letters, some banks were still refusing the accounts.

A guest we supported in our safe houses, was one of the very first HSBC customer taking part in the piloting programme. We had tried for many months to support this person to open a bank account to enable him to receive income from the Job Centre. When HSBC started the pilot and we approached them, there was a lot of kindness and openness from the staff.  The process had some challenges and barriers but there was a lot of willingness from the HSBC staff to overcome any issues.  One day the person returned to hostel with a huge smile on their face and said “Finally! We did it! We opened the bank account.”

Since HSBC has piloted the survivors accounts, many of our guests have been opening accounts with them, with little if any issues, and with a great cooperation between HSBC Champions and SJOG staff. This had a huge impact on our guests’ recoveries. Even, if some do not have any income, they are happy that they have a bank account as a member of our modern society. 

HSBC has also reviewed and rewrite their policies to include the individuals with NFA (No Fix Abode)

HSBC is the champion not only providing the services to the survivors but also to an underserved population.   Pawel Zabielski, Service Manager, Olallo House - SJOG

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