Local Luton businesswoman Ruth Robb, CEO of Azalea wins Gold Award as Charity Champion
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Ruth co-founded local Luton Christian charity in 2007 to reach out to all those trapped in sex trafficking, primarily in Bedfordshire. The charity has grown nothing to a turnover of over £450,000 last year
In 2007 she co-founded local Luton Christian charity Azalea as part of a small team of volunteers working out of a church in Hightown, Luton to reach out to all trapped in sex trafficking, primarily in Luton (and Bedfordshire).
For the last 15 years, she has led the organisation to grow significantly from nothing to a turnover of over £450,000 last year.
She is well known to a wide range of local partners, including the Luton Borough Council, London Luton Airport and the Bedfordshire PCC, for tackling the local Luton issues surrounding sex trafficking. This includes providing the women guests with dedicated services and individual pathways to recovery from their premises in Upper George Street.
Azalea now employs nine full-time equivalent staff and over 80 volunteers. The charity has a 365-degree approach to tackling sex trafficking – child sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation, and adult, domestic and international sex trafficking.
An early emphasis has been to tackle the demand, which is done through the successful Flint programme for male sex buyers. This strategy now reaches the core dysfunctions and solutions to eradicating domestic and international sex trafficking. Ruth has been an inspiration to Luton and, in 2018, launched Luton Against Sex Trafficking (LAST), a local project which works at the heart of the Luton community to eradicate on and off-street sex trafficking.
Ruth also founded FACES - Faith Against Child Exploitation – Sexual, another local group, which includes members from the local Muslim and Christian faiths and provides a vehicle for collaboration of all faith communities to stand against Child Sexual Exploitation.
Through Ruth’s commitment and dedication, the Azalea model has since developed into a national and international model, with a particular emphasis on Burundi, Greece, Hong Kong, Russia and South Africa.
In her spare time, she sits on various Boards and Committees – including the Serious Sexual Assault Board (SSAB) part of local counties, the NHS Sexual Assault Referral Centre, and the APPG round table on Modern Day Slavery, covering sexual exploitation.
She is part of the current Home Office East Region Anti-Slavery Group on Modern-Day Slavery as well as a current Board member of the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution (ICAP) with responsibility for Europe.