AT AN EVENT TO CELEBRATE THE CENTENARY of the opening of diplomatic relations between Albania and the United Kingdom, a new UK human rights charity working to eliminate human trafficking was launched.

His Excellency, the Albanian Ambassador to the Court of St James, Mr Qirjako Qirko, welcomed the charity, Mary Ward Loreto UK. It will work in tandem with its elder sister organisation, the Albania-based Mary Ward Loreto Foundation, to sustain the work being carried out in Albania caring for, supporting and regenerating the lives and prospects of young Albanians, mainly women and children, who but for this support might be vulnerable to human trafficking.

Ambassador Qirko said, “It could not be more appropriate in this 100th year of diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom, that the tireless work being done by the Mary Ward Loreto Foundation in Albania is now being strengthened by a new organisation on the ground here in Britain – bringing new sources of funding, stability and expertise to six advice and service centres across Albania”.

In thanking the ambassador, Sister Imelda Poole IBVM, President of the Foundation in Albania and a founding trustee of the new charity, said: “It is time to recognise the enormously hard work undertaken not only by our Foundation in Albania, but also by the Albanian community here in Britain as well, to protect and prevent their young people from having their lives destroyed by temptations visited upon them by human traffickers.

“Tremendous progress is being made. Working cross-border, as we always do, we see that there are a distressingly large number of Albanian victims who are still being recovered here in the UK. I am – as I am sure the Ambassador is – profoundly grateful to my colleague trustees engaged in this new charity, as well as to the public impetus here that helped it into being.”

Mary Ward Loreto UK (MWL UK) has a fundraising target of £600k this year to enable its six centres across Albania to maintain their services providing shelter, protection, counselling and trauma therapy as well as enhancing education, digital skills and social business opportunities.

Mary Ward Loreto was founded as an NGO under Albanian law in 2013 to provide development programmes for vulnerable communities in Albania. The organisation has as its inspiration Mary Ward, a 16th century Yorkshire woman who founded an international religious congregation, the Loreto Sisters of the Institute of Blessed Virgin Mary, with her core values of Freedom, Justice, Sincerity and Joy.

All the work of Mary Ward Loreto is related to the fight against human trafficking. The organisation forms partnerships and networks with people across Albania and across Europe, including; women in rural regions, Roma children, vulnerable youth, men in poverty, pastoral support in prisons and an education project.

* More information on Mary Ward here.

* Source: Mary Ward Loreto UK