Call on your MP to back the Victim Support Bill - FreedomUnited.org

Guarantee support for all UK slavery victims

Home Office - March 2019
Handing in petition - March 2019

Maya’s story highlights how important it is for victims to receive specialist long-term support and access to other services to overcome their traumatic experiences and rebuild their lives.

The law in England and Wales does not guarantee this. It offers an initial 45 days reflection and recovery period to those the government believes may be victims, whilst in Northern Ireland, and Scotland where this period is being extended to 90 days, legislation guarantees victims will be provided with support.

Lord McColl’s Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill would ensure that victims like Maya will receive a support worker and a care plan for 12 months immediately following their formal recognition as a victim to help them make that journey to survivor and a life that is free for good.

Although the UK government has pledged its commitment to ending modern slavery, if this Bill doesn’t receive the attention it deserves, it risks failing to successfully move through the parliamentary process. That’s why we’re joining forces with the ‘Free For Good’ coalition of UK organizations.

Maya’s* story in her own words:

“I am fortunate enough to say that I am a survivor and no longer a victim of modern slavery, however from the age of 12 to 19 I was a slave to sex trafficking.

Through this crime, everything was taken from me: my control, my dignity, my future, my voice. I became hidden, from the years of 2005 to 2013 I was a statistic, a number within the figure of ‘potential victims of trafficking within the UK’.

Nobody should ever become a victim of trafficking, I should never have been trafficked for those many years undetected. I was not only a child but I was a child in a school. A child with a GP, a child with foster parents and social workers, all which failed throughout seven years to identify that I was being tricked, controlled, tortured and sold every day.

I spent years accepting that what my life had become couldn’t and wouldn’t ever change. It was impossible for me to speak out and nobody around me took any notice of the signs right in front of them.

However, I was extremely lucky to have been rescued four years ago, and all it took was one individual police officer not to dismiss the signs and to look further than what you see on the surface. I then spent the standard 45 days in a safe house. Although I am extremely grateful to have been in a safe house, 45 days isn’t enough time to establish the needs in each individual case, let alone recover from them.

Long-term support is crucial for any survivor’s recovery, without it you may as well not have been rescued at all. I spent the first two years of my recovery moving to four different places, all which claimed to support survivors of trafficking. Unfortunately, they did not have the knowledge and training so there was no recovery. Those two years were unbearable and as a result, my mental health and physical health suffered hugely.

In July 2015 I hit the jackpot! The Snowdrop Project. The first charity to provide adequate and trained long-term support. Having a support worker, counsellor and supportive community has changed my life drastically.

Being a victim of trafficking leaves its mark mentally and physically, four years on and I am still dealing with the effects of this crime but I have not had to do it alone.

Each survivor should be as lucky as I was to have long-term support. The effects and obstacles that you are faced with when rescued should never be faced alone.

It is also vitally important when working with vulnerable people who have been through such a high level of trauma that you have the right training or knowledge. From my own experiences, I found the places I lived that didn’t have it were more detrimental to my long-term recovery… Conversely, I have been able to grow in independence, confidence and strength with the ability to now make choices for the future I have back.

I count it an honour to use my experiences and my voice to speak out on behalf of those who don’t have a voice to help make the necessary changes to survivor care and the movement to eradicate Modern Slavery.”

*The name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual survivor.

  • March 15, 2021: Freedom United is urgently calling on the U.K. government to adopt the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill and introduce the legislation in the next parliamentary session. Read the press release here.

  • January 11, 2021:  We are disappointed to receive a response from the UK government stating they do not support the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill in its current form and do not believe survivors should be given 12 months leave to remain. It is deeply concerning that immigration priorities once again trump the meaningful recovery & protection of survivors. Read the full response from the government here.

  • October 18, 2020: To mark UK Anti-Slavery Day, we’ve signed a letter calling for better immigration protections for all survivors of modern slavery in the UK. Read the letter here.

  • October 14, 2020: Lord McColl and Iain Duncan Smith MP are calling on the UK government to support an amendment to the Immigration and Social Security Coordination Bill which would provide all EU victims of modern slavery with 12 months leave to remain in the UK. Read more here.

  • COVID-19 Update: Our partners at ECPAT UK have warned that the coronavirus lockdown can be incredibly triggering to victims of trafficking, for whom having limited freedom of movement brings back difficult memories of being under the control of their traffickers. Read more here. 

  • Jan 22, 2018: Campaign Launches

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.

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Greer Hart
Greer Hart
2 years ago

I want those involved in exploiting vulnerable people to suffer working in a slave existence, to be exposed and punished for doing so.

E G Foskett
E G Foskett
1 month ago

Support all uk slavery victims imagine being in there shoes what is this world
coming to in the 21st century

Mirta Lidia Yantorno
Mirta Lidia Yantorno
1 year ago

Que tristeza que el hombre en vez de evolucionar, retroceda en su evolución cientos de años. Pero todo vuelve, seguramente en otros tiempos serán ellos los que pidan clemencia y estén en el lugar de los que ahora esclavizan

Email your MP: back the Victim Support Bill!

Read the Full Petition Text

Step 1: Find your MP’s Twitter handle and email address by typing in your postcode here.

Step 2: Copy and paste the message below into your email to send a message to your MP.

Step 3: Don’t forget to let us know you took action by completing the form below the template email!

 

Email message:

Dear [insert name] MP,

As a resident of your constituency, I am writing to ask you to raise with the Home Secretary the desperate need for new measures to support victims of modern slavery to make a full recovery.

It is shocking that being confirmed as a victim of modern slavery does not give any rights to ongoing support or to stay in the UK even though a victim may have been exploited right in the heart of our community, washing our cars, painting our nails or picking our vegetables.

The current support provided under the Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract is really only a crisis intervention. The Statutory Guidance itself says that it is only a ‘bridge to lift adult victims out of a situation of exploitation’ and offers only ‘temporary support.’*

Helping people in the immediate aftermath of exploitation is important – but without pathways to long term recovery it is little more than a sticking plaster. Victims who are not supported to make a full ‘physical, psychological and social recovery’ as the international treaties propose are at risk of re-trafficking while the traffickers continue to profit.

The current system relies on transferring victims to other services for their long term recovery, but without immigration leave many victims are ineligible for those services (even more now that the status of EU nationals has changed). The number of survivors granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK is very low (just 70 victims in 2019 compared with 123 in 2015)

Without a grant of leave non-British victims are left either homeless and destitute, or stuck in safe house accommodation stretching the capacity of those services and unable to regain their independence, rebuild their lives or continue their recovery.

In the face of such instability and uncertainty about the future, including the most basic things like how they will get food and where they will live, it is not surprising that so few victims feel able to talk to police and act as witnesses for criminal proceedings against their traffickers.

In her annual report for 2019-20 the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner said ‘levels of successful criminal justice outcomes are still too low’ and highlighted that ‘If offenders think that there is a very low risk of prosecution, then they are not deterred from committing what is essentially an economic crime’ and more people will be made victims.

Evidence shows that when victims are given specialist longer term support more of them engage with police investigations. If we are to break the cycles of trafficking, we need to support victims into recovery and in doing so enable more of them to give evidence to bring traffickers to justice.

Lord McColl and Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP have brought forward the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill to offer a period of at least one year of support to all confirmed victims after they are formally recognised as a victim by the National Referral Mechanism – with leave to remain in the UK for that year so that all victims can access the support.

Sadly, the Bill has not even been granted a Second Reading and with so little time left in the session it looks unlikely it will become law. In January the Anti-Slavery Commissioner called for the issues around discretionary leave to be resolved in 2021.* The Government could do this by committing in the Queens Speech to introduce the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill itself in the coming session.

Please would you write to the Home Secretary and ask her to commit in the Queen’s Speech to introducing legislation offering a year of support with leave to remain to all confirmed victims.

Yours sincerely,

[Insert name]

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