Past pupil in the national spotlight

Hannah Flint
Hannah Flint

A past pupil of Wisbech Grammar School with a passion for stamping out human trafficking has found herself in the national spotlight in the wake of the case of a Salford pensioner jailed for his exploitation of a deaf and mute girl.

The pensioner, Ilyas Ashar (84), was jailed for 13 years at Manchester Crown Court, after subjecting the girl, who he brought into Britain from Pakistan, to a life of misery and degradation in the cellar of his five-bedroom family home.

Hannah Flint (nee Butcher) (35), who attended the Grammar School, and now works as the Regional Development Executive for the north of England for the non-governmental organisation, the International Justice Mission, was interviewed by Justin Webb on the BBC Radio Four programme, ‘Today’.

She also took part in a television interview for ‘BBC North West Tonight’ as well as being heard twice on BBC Radio Manchester and 5 Live. She was also quoted in ‘The Independent’.

The aim of IJM is to protect people from violence by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, seeing survivors restored to strength and safety and to helping build a safe future that lasts.

The organisation has so far rescued over 16,000 individuals from violent oppression and protected millions by building up public justice systems in the developing countries where it operates.

As a volunteer for the pressure group, Stop the Traffik, Mrs Flint has been involved in running a training day at Manchester airport on spotting the signs of human trafficking, the fastest growing global organised crime, speaking in schools and teacher training on online safety and the grooming process.

For IJM she has trained youth workers and taught in schools, spoken in churches and partnered with the Rhema Theatre Company to create a show about modern day slavery, as well as fundraising over £14,000 to help rescue victims of slavery and trafficking around the world.

As a former pupil of the Grammar School, she is proud to follow in the footsteps of its most famous past pupil, the abolitionist, Thomas Clarkson, but she has found that she needs to make his name more widely known.

She said: “When I started with IJM, their head office is in Washington DC and I met these fabulous human rights lawyers – and nobody had heard of Thomas Clarkson.

“I am always talking about him. He is completely my hero and an ex-Grammar School pupil as well.”

She believes that the campaigning legacy that Clarkson left behind him is particularly relevant in Wisbech today, following the recent press coverage of an operation to clamp down on the exploitation of migrant workers in the Fens.