Hackney ex-banker helps victims of sex trafficking rebuild lives
- Credit: Archant
A Hackney Downs man has founded a jewellery company to support victims of human trafficking, and is urging people who suspect it happening near them to report their concerns.
Former banker, Kevin Ackerman, 26, of Seaton Point, founded jewellery company and social enterprise BACA, employing women, who have suffered sexual exploitation, to design and make the jewellery.
The initiative provides them with work experience and supports them to become financially independent.
Mr Ackermann said: “I moved into private banking in Zurich and I got fed up with the huge imbalance I felt was between the wealthy and the poor during my travels around the world.
“I decided I wanted to do something which had a deeper meaning. I wanted to make sure that when someone produces something, whether a product or a service, they are able to develop themselves and make a positive contribution to their community and environment.”
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Mr Ackermann said he considered his upbringing as privileged and was taught to value women, growing up with three sisters. He has spent the last year forging partnerships with women’s charities around the world and major companies like Swarovski which donates crystals for the jewellery.
He said: “This has really encouraged the woman and empowered them. We have been given feedback that they can come here and shut down and relax, really something that takes their mind off their difficulties and enables them to create and reflect.
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“It is something they can make to express themselves and it creates a strong connection between the person that makes the jewellery and the person that wears it.”
Mr Ackermann also teamed up with charity, Fixers, to create a video highlighting sexual violence in London.
The film shows the issue of trafficking from six different perspectives, including a man and woman who are trapped, working long hours for minimal pay, and representatives from the Salvation Army and the Metropolitan Police, who tell viewers how they can help.
Mr Ackermann said: “I wanted to highlight this as it is so relevant. Some people think it’s something that only affects people far away but it isn’t just something that happens in other countries.”
Mr Ackermann and his team have now been working to raise their profile in London and found success at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict at the Excel Centre earlier this year, selling out of all current stock.
He said: “As people we bear a responsibility to one another.
“We can’t continue to ignore this issue as the effects it has on victims are unimaginable for most of us. I hope this can be a wake-up call to ensure that human trafficking can be eradicated.”
To watch the film, visit: fixers.org.uk. To find out more about BACA, visit: bacajewellry.com