Project: Core cost funding for the Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline
Fund: General Fund
Unseen is a charity providing safe houses and support in the community for survivors of trafficking and modern slavery. A key component of their service is the UK Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline which works with individuals, communities, businesses, governments, other charities and statutory agencies to stamp out slavery for good.
A grant from Heart of Bucks helped the Buckinghamshire branch of the Helpline via a specialist team of advisers answering calls and online reports from anyone concerned about, or experiencing, exploitation. The team is available to take calls 24/7, 365 days a year and slowly builds trust over a number of phone calls, explaining the victims’ rights, the support they are entitled to, and the role of law enforcement in helping them escape. They offer vital support, helping victims prepare to leave their situation of exploitation, referring them to the appropriate support services, and aiding police investigations into their exploiters.
Facilitated by this grant, the helpline made 15 referrals to local authorities in Buckinghamshire, that were a lifeline to many other vulnerable members of the community who were at risk of, or experiencing, exploitation. Detective Superintendent Fi Capaldi praised the Helpline’s role in reducing crime and applauded the vital services of the Helpline’s staff who ‘collate all the information needed to pursue perpetrators and rescue victims.’
One victim who was supported by the Helpline was Susan* (name changed). Family members were about to traffic Susan and force her into sexual exploitation so they could profit. Susan bravely reached out to the Helpline and explained to the Helpline Advisor that she had previously been sexually abused as a child by her grandmother and aunt before she was taken into care. As an adult, she had recently moved back to be with her mother but discovered that her grandmother and aunt also lived at the same property. Susan’s family began to threaten her and were attempting to force her into prostitution against her will. When Susan resisted, she was told that she was going to be sent away so she could not escape. Susan told the Helpline that several children also lived at the house and was fearful that they were also at risk of future exploitation.
Susan asked the Helpline for support and so Helpline Advisors contacted the police, who facilitated her being able to leave the house. She was entered into the NRM, the government support system for victims of modern slavery, and successfully entered into safehouse accommodation to begin her recovery.