can you give £15 to mark 15 years of Unseen? 

Your gift will help us to provide the care and support that survivors deserve.
Can you give £15 to mark 15 years of Unseen?

This year marks 15 years since Unseen began.  

We’ve come a long way since then – through economic hardships, political pressure and conflicts.  

Our new Impact Report has a timeline highlighting some key moments over this period.  

It also details how we’re supporting victims and survivors of exploitation, and working towards a future free from modern slavery.  

None of this would be possible without your help. Donations allow us to provide the care that survivors deserve. monthly gift of just £15 could be used towards funding our vital services, from our Outreach programme, to our Helpline and safehouses.  

Elira’s story

Elira* is a survivor of modern slavery who recently came into Unseen’s services. She arrived at our women’s safehouse nervous and afraid to venture outside. Trauma from her experiences had left a lasting impact, and she feared that people, even other safehouse residents, would compromise her safety. 

“I was just staying in my room and not going out. All my world was just in my room. I didn’t want to have connections with humans.”  

Elira (pictured above) was feeling lost, scared and abandoned. “I was totally destroyed. I was asking myself what I did wrong in my life.”  

However, Elira’s situation began to improve with the support of Unseen’s Frontline team. With their help, she gradually began to feel that she was now in a safe environment.   

“The staff from Unseen were very helpful, coming in my room and listening to me when I was very bad.”   

Elira is grateful for the support she received from Unseen staff: “They are making us feel important or to see ourselves like a human.” 

Elira soon became involved with Unseen’s Survivor Consultants programme, an initiative that not only allows us to learn from those with lived experience, but also provides survivors with work experience and training to help them move into permanent employment. “They make you feel that you have the right to talk. They have the patience to listen to everybody.”  

Unseen has helped Elira to feel seen again. “Being involved with Unseen makes you feel comfortable and free to talk and to feel the power in yourself that you have rights.”  

At Unseen, we rely on the generosity of our supporters to continue our work. This is something Elira has first-hand experience of. “If you are supporting Unseen, you should think that they are going to support hundreds and hundreds of people like me. Those people don’t have a voice if they don’t have help.”   

After one year in Unseen’s services, Elira finally says she has “hopes and powers for the future”. 

Together, we can help more people like Elira. Your donations make it possible for us to deliver care, support and hope to survivors of modern slavery across the UK. Please consider giving a monthly gift of just £15 – so we can keep working towards a future free from modern slavery.  

*Name changed to protect identity. Image posed by model. Photo credit: © iStock

Related stories

Justine Currell

As I came to understand more about the issue, including through a visit to an Unseen safehouse, I knew I needed to do more to stop this abuse and exploitation.

For the last five years of my Civil Service career, I was the Modern Slavery Senior Policy Advisor in the Home Office and led on development of the Modern Slavery Act, including the transparency in supply chains provision and business guidance.

I joined Unseen to lead the development of the Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline, and Unseen’s work with businesses. I am regularly called upon to present at national and international conferences and use my experience of working with Ministers to influence other governments internationally to take action to address modern slavery and, in particular, business supply chain issues.

In my spare time I enjoy keeping fit, music, reading and travelling.

Andrew Wallis

What ultimately compelled me to act was a report on how people from Eastern Europe were being trafficked through Bristol airport to the USA. Kate Garbers, who went on to be an Unseen Director, and I wrote to all the city councillors, MPs and the Police Chief Constable challenging them on the issue. The challenge came back to us: this city needs safe housing for trafficked women. And so Unseen began.

But we never wanted Unseen to be just about safe housing. We wanted to end slavery once and for all, and that remains our driving focus.

I chaired the working group for the Centre for Social Justice’s landmark report “It Happens Here: Equipping the United Kingdom to Fight Modern Slavery”. This is now acknowledged as the catalyst behind the UK’s Modern Slavery Act of 2015. It was a great honour to be awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours that year. On the other hand, I’ve also been described as “the loveliest disrupter you could ever hope to meet”.

This job has taken me from building flat-pack furniture for safehouses, to working with businesses to address slavery in supply chains, to delivering training, raising awareness and advising governments around the world.

When not at work, I enjoy travelling, spending time with my dog Harley, cooking, supporting Liverpool and Yorkshire CC, music (I’m a former DJ) and endurance events such as the Three Peaks Challenge and Tribe Freedom Runs – which I vow never to do again. Until the next time.