Prime Minister Theresa May has called modern slavery “the great human rights issue of our time”. It’s a social evil that is hidden in plain sight. Modern slavery happens in our own, comfortable, local communities here in the UK.
The Salvation Army runs a specialist support programme for adult victims of modern slavery in England and Wales with a network of safehouses run with our partners as well as access to confidential client-based support services to give victims the space to reflect, recover, and rebuild their lives.
The Salvation Army aims to increase awareness of modern slavery and educate the public on how they could spot the signs that someone is a modern day slave. The idea is that the more people get involved in the fight against modern slavery, the sooner it will be stamped out.
The Modern Slavery Act, introduced by Theresa May in 2015, is a valuable tool in the fight, as it makes businesses more accountable for their supply chains. According to research conducted by The Salvation Army, however, 80% of citizens aren’t aware that big businesses are legally obligated to inform the public about their plans to prevent slave labour from creeping into their supply chains.
HRH Princess Eugenie backs social media initiative
#askthequestion is a Salvation Army social media initiative to encourage people to ask businesses if their products and services are slave free (#slavefree). The initiative has received plenty of support, most notably from HRH Princess Eugenie. It’s an issue Princess Eugenie feels strongly about, having met with survivors in India and then again in one of The Salvation Army’s safe houses in England.
Princess Eugenie describes both experiences in an interview with The Salvation Army’s Director of Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery, Major Anne Read. She was struck by two things: the fact that modern slavery is a problem on our doorstep in the UK and the courage of the victims who’ve been rescued.
In the interview, Princess Eugenie said the #askthequestion initiative is brilliant, as it encourages people to think more seriously about the products and services they purchase, and it motivates people to delve deeper by asking businesses to be accountable.
She said: “I’ve had the chance to see first-hand what The Salvation Army can do for victims of trafficking and modern slavery. This year I went to visit a safe house and I was completely astonished by the work that they do and by the survivors who have come out of modern slavery. I think it’s everyone’s opportunity and duty to #askthequestion and to support this campaign in any way possible to try to effect change and create massive awareness for the cause.”
One of the first steps the Princess has taken is to feature in a short film in which she encourages people to support #askthequestion and help get rid of modern slavery once and for all.
To watch the interview in full, visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/askthequestion.
Modern slavery in the UK
The Salvation Army has reported a five-fold increase in the number of modern slavery victims it has supported in as many years. In its first year working to help victims of modern slavery, it supported 378 people. In year five of the contract it supported 2,013.
According to statistics for the past year released by The Salvation Army, 62 per cent of those who have come into our service are women, with 38 per cent being men and 0.5 per cent transgender. The most common form of slavery experienced (45%) is sexual exploitation. The second most common form is labour exploitation (42%), with domestic servitude representing 13 per cent.
The regions which yielded the highest number of referrals of victims into The Salvation Army’s service include: London, the South East, the West Midlands, and the North West. The organisation records the top nationalities of people who enter its care, and war-torn Eritrea and Sudan now feature seventh and tenth respectively. More than twice as many victims come from Albania than anywhere else in the world, followed by Nigeria; the majority of these are women often forced into the sex trade.
Offering a safe place to stay for victims of modern slavery
The Salvation Army, working with its partners, provides safehouses and outreach support for victims of modern slavery in England and Wales.
The Council of Europe Convention requires that potential and actual victims of modern slavery have specific entitlements to support. These include:
- Material Assistance
- Access to psychological support
- Access to legal advice and assistance
- Emergency medical treatment
- Education for the victim’s children
- Translation and interpretation services when appropriate
We also look to provide activities for people in our safehouses, such as social events, days out, assistance with job searches and CV writing if appropriate, as well as emotional and spiritual support if requested.
From the moment victims enter our safehouses, they are given advice and support to prepare them for when they will need to leave the service to continue their recovery.
You can call The Salvation Army’s helpline if you consider yourself:
- to be a victim of modern slavery and in need of assistance
- or you are nominated to make referrals to Government services for victims of modern slavery
- or simply a concerned individual, who comes into contact with someone you suspect may be a victim of modern slavery and in need of assistance
Please call our 24-hour confidential Referral Helpline on 0300 303 8151 available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.