of slavery to live
free for good
THE UK’s CAMPAIGN FOR
THE MODERN SLAVERY (VICTIM SUPPORT) BILL
Write to your MP asking them to back the Bill
Please join us in letting the Government know how important this Bill is. Enter your postcode below to send your local MP a pre-written email
(you can add your own words if you wish too):
When a person escapes from modern slavery they need help. Most of all they need security and stability as they look to the future.
Unlike victims of modern slavery in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the law in England and Wales currently does not give victims a right to support.*
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What does the
government have to say?
Since Lord McColl introduced his Bill the Government has announced some proposals to provide additional support to some victims for an extra 45 days and for some victims, access to drop in support services for up to 6 months.
These proposals are a step in the right direction but do not offer victims the full protection they need which is offered by Lord McColl’s Bill. The reasons why these proposals fall short and why there is still an urgent need to campaign for Lord McColl’s Bill are:
45 days is not long enough
Many victims do not begin to process the trauma that they have experienced until much later than 45 days after the decision about their victim status is made. To feel able to begin this psychological recovery many victims need to have certainty that they will have somewhere to stay and food to eat for a sustained period of time.
Providing support for just 45 days, without giving victims new rights to stay in the UK for a period of recovery afterwards with access to housing and benefits, training and employment, will not give them the certainty and stability to rebuild their lives that they badly need.
Practically speaking an extra 45 days in the safe house will give victims who have the right to stay in the UK more time to find housing and apply for benefits or other services. But these cannot all be arranged within 45 days. Victims who do not have a right to remain after 45 days, meanwhile, will need to apply for special discretionary leave to stay in the UK which is unlikely to be processed within 45 days. This means that when the 45 days come to an end they will again be at risk of homelessness and re-trafficking until they get a final decision.
Lord McColl’s Bill will give every victim the option of receiving support and assistance for 12 months, tailored to the needs of each individual victim. Many victims who escape, need more than emergency care, they need a long term plan to help them become free for good.
The six months “drop in” service will only be for some victims
The Government has proposed drop in services that victims can access for up to six months after they leave the safe house support. But, if victims do not have the right to stay in the UK for those six months then they may be deported or re-trafficked and will not have access to this help.
A drop in service alone is not really enough support to meet the needs of some victims, but it is not clear if the proposed drop in service will give victims ongoing advocacy support to help them access the services they are entitled to.
Lord McColl’s Bill will give every victim the right to stay in the UK for 12 months to receive support. It will also give each person access to a support worker for that whole period to help them access services and begin to rebuild their lives so they can live free for good.
What about Scotland
and Northern Ireland?
Scotland and Northern Ireland are not covered by Lord McColl’s Bill. In part this is because these countries already have provisions in law to offer victims short term support. In Scotland this has even been extended to a period of 90 days rather than 45 days.
There are, however, some provisions in Lord McColl’s Bill about the rules on allowing victims to remain longer in the UK on which the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly do not have power to act themselves. At the moment Lord McColl’s Bill does not extend this right to remain to victims in Scotland or Northern Ireland but the governing authorities will be given an opportunity by Westminster to opt-in to the relevant parts of the Bill if the Bill becomes law.
If they do, then victims in all parts of the UK could benefit from Lord McColl’s Bill.
IN HER WORDS
I am fortunate enough to say that I am a survivor and no longer a victim to modern slavery, however from the age of 12- 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- 2013 I was a statistic, a number within the figure of “potential victims of trafficking within the UK”
Sebastian is a European National and he was deceived into coming to the UK on a false promise of an offer of work and accommodation. When he arrived he was threatened, forced to live in squalid conditions, sleep on the floor and forced to work long hours for no pay. He was given so little food that he was forced to steal food to survive.