As we start the second week of the up|END Campaign, we’re celebrating two important days: Colorado Gives Day and International Volunteer Day, both of which occur today! To mark the occasion, we’re sharing about Colorado’s 24/7 human trafficking hotline, and the incredible volunteers that make it possible. You can support this critical resource that helps upend human trafficking 365 days a year by visiting combathumantrafficking.org/upend.
A Colorado Network to End Human Trafficking
The Colorado Network to End Human Trafficking (CoNEHT) was formed in 2005 as a statewide collaborative of organizations that support the mission to provide a safe and appropriate response to human trafficking in the state. CoNEHT began operation of the statewide human trafficking hotline in 2007 and simultaneously began to build their network of community partners to support it. The Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking (LCHT) was asked to assume leadership and management of the hotline in 2013.
Volunteers Who Upend Trafficking All Year Long
On this International Volunteer Day, LCHT would like to honor and thank our 40 current and over 100 former dedicated hotline advocate volunteers. These advocates and their team of supervisors make sure that Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline is staffed around-the-clock. Our advocates undergo over 60 training hours, from victim-centered and trauma-informed advocacy, learning protocol for referrals within our statewide network of resources for survivors, specialized cross-sector trainings by law enforcement, legal services, advocates and educators; and completion of the full VAT online training certification through the Office for Victims of Crime. They range in age from 20-73 and live across the state.
The backbone of the 24/7 Colorado Human Trafficking Hotline is the team of advocates, armed with our statewide resource directory. These dedicated and trained volunteers are available at all times and answer any number of types of calls. While primarily a resource and referral hotline; CoNEHT also acts as a conduit for tips that are reported to our law enforcement partners with human trafficking training (upon caller request), a wealth of information for callers, and an advocacy resource for survivors. In 2017, about a third of the calls to the hotline were directly from survivors. The rest of the calls come from service providers working with survivors, community members with tips for law enforcement, friends or family of survivors looking for resources, and from community members looking to join the fight or seeking information.
Are you interested in joining our trained and committed cohort of hotline advocate volunteers? Fill out an application here. Our next training will occur January 20-21 & 27-28, over two consecutive weekends.
More Resources to Fight Human Trafficking
The resource directory is a growing list of hundreds of organizations and agencies trained in human trafficking and offering support services to survivors. Our resource directory spans the state and allows us to make location specific referrals for a range of resources including case management, healthcare, mental health services, shelter, transportation, and legal assistance.
We are currently conducting our annual vetting of the resource directory to make sure that we are up to date on the resources our partner organizations provide, and that their current staff has received human trafficking training. During this process, we are working to identify strengths and gaps in the type and location of our resources so that we know where we need to grow. Over the next year our goal is to grow our resources in more remote parts of the state to meet the diverse needs of our callers, particularly for mental health resources and housing.
Forming Partnerships to Serve Colorado
Though we have a growing list of human trafficking specific resources for survivors across the state there is still a need for more qualified resources, especially outside of urban areas on the front range. Partnerships can develop in a number of ways. Sometimes service providers who have attended trainings or conferences where they are introduced to the hotline seek out LCHT to join the resource directory or receive a training for their organization. Or it can happen through mutual participation on a human trafficking task force (there are 17 across Colorado) or task force participation of one of our parallel movements (i.e. child welfare, homelessness, domestic violence).
Sometimes it’s just old-fashioned outreach. For example, earlier this year our Action Plan Manager Mary Durant made a trip up to Fort Collins to do a training for an organization there. While in Fort Collins she decided to stop by SAVA (Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center) to introduce herself and make a connection, as survivors of human trafficking may present to this type of victim service provider. Before long, we were invited to train their entire staff on human trafficking and where it might intersect with their work. Shortly after, they joined CoNEHT as a community partner.
Does your organization provide support services for trafficked persons? Join our growing resource directory that supports the CoNEHT Hotline.
Some of our community partners have been around from the beginning and continue to serve survivors of human trafficking. Colorado Legal Services (CLS) is one of our most trusted allies in the human trafficking movement and have 14 offices across the state. They partner with LCHT along with Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network to run the CoNEHT Steering Committee. CLS is a nonprofit organization which has helped low-income individuals in Colorado for over 90 years. CLS’s mission is to provide meaningful access to high quality, civil legal services in the pursuit of justice for as many low-income persons and members of vulnerable populations throughout Colorado as possible. They have provided services to victims and survivors of human trafficking for over a decade and are experts in the field.