Give victims like Nancy a chance to recover

My name is Nancy and I am a victim of modern slavery. I am turning to you, the public, for help because this is my last effort to stay away from violence and abuse in my home country.

I came to the UK in 2008 when a relative promised me a good education and a better life. When I arrived, I was enslaved for four years in domestic servitude. I received no education and I was constantly under my trafficker’s watch.

In 2011, I finally found the courage to run away and I was homeless for three years, sometimes able to find a couch or room to stay in with church members. I looked everywhere for support and finally a lady told me about the Red Cross, who enrolled me into the government system called the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in 2014. Luckily, in the same year, I was formally recognised as a victim of modern slavery.

Unfortunately, in the UK, this does not come with any immigration status and I had to apply for asylum. Less than one year after coming forward as a victim I was denied leave-to-remain on the basis that it is safe to return to my home country of Nigeria. For me, it was not safe because my trafficker was there.

Because I was too scared to be sent back to Nigeria, I became homeless to try to find a way to stay in the UK. I was exposed to additional violence and crime because I was on the streets. This did not help my recovery. For the last five years, I have battled unsuccessfully to get asylum and I am still at risk of being returned to Nigeria.  After living homeless in the UK for almost a year, I was able to find additional legal support to submit a new asylum claim but this triggered even more trauma.

Although I was told that entering the NRM would allow me to begin my rest and recovery, this has not been the case. I have experienced additional trauma from the NRM and asylum process.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m being re-trafficked because I have been moved without any notice or information about where I will be moved and who will be picking me up. I have moved five times. I am also told that I should trust the providers and they will be helping me with achieving a better a life. I have not seen this come true.

I am forced to justify my story over and over and told that I’m faking my trauma symptoms. In fact, my anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and panic attacks have gotten worse. As an asylum seeker, I am not allowed to work, and so I must sit in the safe house and I’m left to think about all of the horrible events over and over again. I can distract myself from the problem by going to different activities but the larger problem and the fear of my trafficker is always there. The only thing that has helped is meeting other survivors who are going through the same thing and we can share our fears with each other.

I have not been able to access counselling regularly, especially because most counsellors do not have experience working with survivors of modern slavery.

About a year of my time was wasted, waiting for a response from the Home Office just to be told that my new claim was lost by the government in a flood. This claim included a lot of evidence and documents that showed how my trafficking impacted my mental health. When we went to submit these documents again, the Home Office said that they were out of date.

Instead of submitting a new (third) asylum claim, my only option was to challenge the original decision to deny my asylum. Less than one year after coming forward, how could anyone be safe to return to their home country when their trafficker is there? How can someone deemed to be a victim of modern slavery be forced to the point of homelessness and destitution?

I am asking you to help me appeal to the Home Office to grant me leave to remain in the UK.

I went through four years of trafficking, but I’ve been waiting six years to rebuild my life. The Home Office has the power to change this. Going into the NRM was not the freedom I was promised. In the last eight years since I left my trafficker, I have relied on the good will of people like you.

Can you help me gain my freedom? If I stay in the UK, I will be fighting for the freedom of other survivors’ as well.

Please sign this petition and read more about my journey in The Guardian.

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

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Diane RileyLucy DowlingNelson kweyahRob RedfordPeter Canning Recent comment authors
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Diane Riley
Diane Riley

I am so disgusted by this administration where they no compassion for any lives what so ever! This administration has been a huge embarrassment to all of us!

Lucy Dowling
Lucy Dowling

I’m appalled and ashamed that we are treating Nancy like this. She MUST be allowed to remain indefinitely. The Home Office have really messed up.

Nelson kweyah
Nelson kweyah

Too sad.

Rob Redford
Rob Redford

These people should be allowed to work and support their families

Peter Canning

Shame on Inisbrexit for allowing this to happen. She should have the right to work and get paid for it.

Urge the UK Home Secretary to give victims like Nancy a chance to recover

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Dear Rt. Hon. Priti Patel MP:

I am deeply concerned that government-recognized victims of trafficking in the UK are not being provided with the support necessary to recover from trauma and rebuild their lives. The Minister responsible recently said “the government is committed to ensuring victims get the support they need”.

Nancy is one such victim who, despite receiving a positive conclusive grounds decision after passing through the National Referral Mechanism, has been repeatedly failed by the Home Office. She was left homeless and destitute with no way to support herself, let alone access support to recover from the mental trauma of living in modern slavery that left her with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Following several applications to remain in the UK where she is safe from her traffickers to get the support she needs, Nancy has been denied a residence permit. As a result, she faces having to return to her home country where her traffickers await, still vulnerable from the trauma of enduring domestic servitude.

I urge you to grant Nancy leave to remain in the UK where she may be provided with adequate support to be able to rebuild her life free from the threat of retrafficking and retraumatisation, and to support the passage of the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill so that all victims are better protected.

Yours sincerely,

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