The anti-trafficking charity No More Traffik is seeking to have a greater impact in the fight against modern slavery by merging with a much larger charity.
The Belfast-based charity will merge with Hope for Justice, which it estimates should be completed by the end of the financial year.
NMT is primarily an awareness-raising and frontline professional training organisation in Northern Ireland.
Hope for Justice does similar work in Great Britain and many other countries around the world. It also works directly with victims and survivors through outreach, community engagement and advocacy.
The coming-together of the two charities means Hope for Justice will become active in Northern Ireland for the first time.
Until the process is complete, NMT will continue to exist and be part of HFJ, but the long-term intention is for it to take on the latter’s branding, rather than being a separate organisation.
NMT said there would be no redundancies because it had only one paid member of staff, who joined HFJ’s 350-strong workforce earlier this month. There will be no change to the status or location of either charities' buildings and offices.
HFJ said finances were not a relevant factor in the decision – it was about expanding its work to Northern Ireland with a charity that wants “to be part of something making a wider impact”.
The latest Hope for Justice accounts show it had a total income of about £6.8m in the year to the end of March 2020, while NMT’s total income was just over £24,000 in 2019.
Pete Kernoghan, formerly development director and founder of No More Traffik, has become a member of staff at Hope for Justice to help further the work it does in Northern Ireland.
“The number of people identified as potential victims of modern slavery and human trafficking in Northern Ireland has increased by 146 per cent since 2018 and we know that many more people go unidentified,” he said.
“By working with the additional expertise of the team at Hope for Justice, we can make more of an impact and help change more lives.”
Tim Nelson, chief executive of HFJ, said: “Expanding our work to include Northern Ireland is both strategic and necessary if we want to react to changing legislation and work with key partners such as the Department of Justice to bring about lasting impact.
“By educating frontline workers to spot the signs and identify those at risk, we amplify awareness, which leads to action and action leads to change.
“No single organisation can eradicate modern slavery – we need to work together to release more resources, offer better training, have better thinking and improve our partnerships.
“That is the heartbeat to this, coming together to make an even greater difference in Northern Ireland and beyond.”