NORFOLK, Va.. (WAVY) – Libraries are often seen as safe havens in our communities. In Norfolk, employees are taking that a step further by making sure they know the signs of human trafficking.
It’s a quiet place that doubles as a safe place.
“The library serves the community,” said Patricia Kendalls, who is the adult programming coordinator for Norfolk Public Libraries. “Sometimes there’s people that come into these branches and they need more than just a book. They need information and they need resources and I felt like this would be a good thing for us, is to start advocating.”
Her goal is to help stop human trafficking, so she contacted the Samaritan House, which pointed her in the direction of the Safe House Project.
“We really help fill the gaps and make sure that as survivors move through what we call the continuum of care, which is like that emergency housing model into that long term safe house program and then into transition, that they don’t fall through the gaps,” said Brittany Dunn, Safe House Project COO.
The Safe House Project was founded in Norfolk back in 2017.
Dunn says their mission is to eradicate child trafficking by 2030. To reach that goal, they need help from the community.
“To educate themselves on the issue, so that we can understand how each of us can spot and report and more importantly, prevent trafficking where we live, work and play,” Dunn said.
The organization has create a free training, called “OnWatch”, which aims to do just that.
“What were those indicators that a community member could have seen and said something so that we can increase reporting,” said Dunn.
90 percent of Norfolk Public Library employees completed the OnWatch training. Kendalls says it will be part of the onboarding process for new hires moving forward.