Guarantee Support for all UK Slavery Victims - Sign Our Petition

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.

  • November 2021: Freedom United and 100+ leaders in the anti-slavery sector are asking for urgent changes to the new Nationality and Borders Bill currently making its way through Parliament. The Bill could mean more victims of modern slavery going unidentified, including British victims and children, and make it harder to prosecute traffickers. Read our full statement.

  • 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.

  • Jan 22, 2018: Campaign Launches

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

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

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Mahar Safdar Ali
3 years ago

There are more the 4.5 million slaves in Pakistan , Please let join hands to fight against injustice , illiteracy and slavery , Together we can .

Sharon Z
Sharon Z
3 years ago

I am so afraid that many of the girls and young woman who are being held in a detention camp by Trumps troops are being trafficked and/or sold into slavery. Without full disclosure, it is difficult to know their status, but girls have been seen being whisked away in cars at very early a.m. times, with their heads covered. This does not seem to be part of a normal routine for children who are being detained and held from their parents. There needs to be a thorough investigation!

2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Z

Unfortunately, many of those women, girls and boys coming in are being done so through trafficking. So, they are already slaves before they are even detained. It could be that they are being taken to safe houses under cover. It’s important to not jump to conclusions and spread rumors before the truth is discovered. Good to be aware and investigative though.

Dianne Whitehead
Dianne Whitehead
9 months ago
Reply to  TKP

TKP’s comment is patently false and comes straight from the mouths of right-wing liars like Donald Trump and his evil minions. Most of the people who try to legally enter the United States are fleeing their countries of origin to seek a better life for themselves and their families.

9 months ago

Patently? Really? I’m so glad that you have no doubt that many of these people are not trafficked in Diane. You are calling me a liar and you don’t even know me. But I can tell that I don’t want to know you. I have worked along side non-profits to help aide survivors of human trafficking, bring them hope and spread awareness. I am a teacher and child advocate…and yes, many of them ARE trafficked in. Not all, but many. You have the right to open your mouth but you probably shouldn’t do so.

Andrew (Andy) Alcock
Andrew (Andy) Alcock
3 years ago

Any society that claims to be democratic and to support basic human and worker rights must ensure that everything is done protect working people from exploitation and abuse.

Eva Paz
Eva Paz
3 years ago

The individual has to be exploited one or more times to gain immunity. The function of “the system” is to control the depth of exploiting so that individuals do not become trapped, there must be a route to escape, but a non-trivial one. This is the reason Socialism fails, general imposition of the “no exploit at all” principle results in a non-immunized society after a few generations. The post-socialist society becomes exploited easier than before socialism.

Val Gaize
Val Gaize
3 years ago

Slaves the world over are vulnerable not only to sale for whatever purpose, but also to beatings, rape, malnourishment and God knows what-all else.

richard nyangao
richard nyangao
3 years ago
Reply to  Val Gaize

very true, escpecialy so orphans left without any care giver.

Val Gaize
Val Gaize
3 years ago

Thanks, Richard! I could tear my hair out (except I sport a No 1 cut!) at the thought of those children entitled to come and join relatives, whom Theresa May’s policies are keeping at bay. Even more so, those wandering around camps with no support whatsoever unless they happen across someone who feels as you and I do about their protection, and protects them.

Avinash Chawla
Avinash Chawla
3 years ago

In this modernage , the continuance of slavery is the most heinous thing to happen. The government needs to crack on it esp relating to children below adult age.

Call for the UK Victim Support Bill to become law

Help us reach 100,000 actions

Dear Rt Hon Boris Johnson, PM:

To give victims of modern slavery the best chance of recovery and reduce the risk of re-trafficking, the government must provide a statutory secure pathway of support. Transparent and legal entitlements for victims must be set out, as in Scotland and Northern Ireland. All victims across the UK deserve equal rights to support.

The risk of homelessness and destitution of victims is real. Most do not qualify for discretionary leave or welfare benefits – only 12% did in 2015. This hinders efforts to increase the number of trafficking convictions which remain low.

Conservative Peer, Lord McColl of Dulwich has introduced a much needed private members bill – the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill – to the House of Lords to address these problems. The Bill provides victims with guaranteed support during the National Referral Mechanism period, and for 12 months afterwards, including special leave to remain enabling all victims to receive support.

We urge you to support the Bill and to ensure it is given enough time to be properly debated by MPs. Lord McColl’s Bill will enable you to make greater progress towards your objectives of reducing modern slavery and increasing conviction rates. These new standards will establish meaningful victim support services, putting the UK in a position to promote its efforts.

Total number of actions also includes:

11,519 signatures on Anti-Slavery International

20,437 joint actions via Global Citizen with the Co-op (emails and tweets to PM Theresa May, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, and MPs) 

5,037 emails to MPs from Free for Good

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