The Payoke Way

Payoke was the first anti-trafficking NGO in Europe. Besides continuing to support victims we now also offer our decades of specialised practical experience in the field to governments, institutions and organisations to support their ability to prevent, detect and counter human trafficking effectively. Our aim is a world where slavery and human exploitation really is a thing of the past and justice is served.

Our beginnings as a low threshold, walk in safe space have caused us to consciously choose to get to know everyone over a cup of coffee or tea before discussing ‘help’ or ‘support’. Everyone is unique, everyone has their own history and knowing one another is essential to be able to work together and offer fitting support and guidance.

We work to bring tangible and positive change to the lives of survivors of human trafficking in Belgium. We offer a safe space and reflection period of 45 days to victims to get to know and trust each other en decide what type of support is most needed. We can offer psychosocial support to rebuild self-confidence and independence, administrative and housing support to get the practicals back in order as well as juridical support on legal residence, criminal cases but also outstanding warrants etc.

Shelter & support

Payoke is one of the three support centres authorized by the Belgian government to assist victims of human trafficking. The program we offer, lasting two to three years, is designed to support the victim from identification to the end of the judicial proceedings.

There are three government-recognised specialised centers working with human trafficking victims in Belgium. Payoke in Flanders is the oldest and most experienced of the three.

Each guidance track is developed together with the victim and based upon the individual wants and needs they have based on their individual experiences. There is guidance available in several different areas, psychosocial, administrative, jurdical and housing.

A track takes as long as it takes for all juridical procedures to be concluded and a victim to become fully self-sufficient. On average this takes about 2 to 3 years, but again this depends on the the situation in case in question and can take much longer.

Serving justice

Payoke has been working for decades with victims of human trafficking. After so many stories and all the injustice in victim’s experiences, we cannot help but put the serving of justice front and center in our approach.

To achieve this it is for obvious reasons essential to offer victims support in the juridical process, but we’re taking this a step further by actively being involved in the development of laws and regulations to ensure that they align with victims rights and needs and support effective prosecution in human trafficking cases.

Fighting human trafficking

In the fight against human trafficking Payoke battles for prevention, detection and effective support for victims. The last is in our DNA as a victim-support organisation but we’re also working on the other two points.

Our aim is to inform everyone in Belgium of the signals of human trafficking and who to contact in case they see several of these red flags go up so we can detect victims as early as possible and offer them support. We do this through campaigns for the public (i.e. Blue Heart campaign), but also through trainings for front line services (more information for professionals here).

Concerning prevention we’re working with schools to inform students of the danger of human trafficking, how to recognize it and where they can go. For the prevention of exploitation of migrants we’re working with the ministry of foreign affairs, consulates and other countries on information campaigns to inform migrants of the dangers of human trafficking before they depart.