A letter to Vodafone, O2, EE and Three 

More than 25 human rights groups have written to the main mobile network companies, asking them to provide a vital welcome text to Ukrainian refugees arriving in the UK.

Signatories to the letter include the outgoing UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Dame Sara Thornton and leaders of key anti-slavery charities in the UK. 

The Ukrainian welcome text would include essential safety information, plus the help that is on offer should anyone need it. 

It would be triggered the moment an individual arrives in the UK (pictured: Ukrainian refugees at Lviv railway station).  

The letter has been sent to the CEOs of Vodafone UK, Virgin Media O2, EE and Three UK – Ahmed Essam, Lutz Schüler, Marc David Allera and Robert Finnegan. 

Here is the text of the letter and the signatories. 

Text of letter to mobile network providers 

Please provide a welcome text to Ukrainian refugees arriving in the UK that includes essential safety information – it could help thousands avoid the very real threat of modern slavery and other forms of exploitation. 

Dear CEO

We are writing to ask you to do a very simple thing that will help thousands of Ukrainian refugees avoid the very real threat of modern slavery and other forms of exploitation when they arrive in this country. 

Please could your company provide a welcome text on your network that includes essential safety information, plus the help that is on offer should anyone need it.  

As you’ll know millions of Ukrainian people, mostly women and children, are fleeing the war in their homeland, with thousands of them coming to the UK.  

Many of them will have no connections here, few belongings with them, and possibly very little financial security. They are extremely vulnerable – and unfortunately, that means they are at risk of exploitation by criminals.  

The situation is urgent. Already there have been reports of trafficking of refugees in countries adjoining Ukraine. We want to make sure the UK does all it can to avoid such a situation happening here, so we are asking that you please act immediately. 

A simple welcome text, in Ukrainian and English, triggered the moment Ukrainians arrive in the UK and switch on their phones, could make all the difference.  

To speed things up, we have suggested some information you could include in the text below.  

Please let us know your response to our request by return. For ease, please can you email [email protected] 

We look forward to hearing from you. 


Tamara Barnett, Director of Operations, Human Trafficking Foundation  

Stephen Bell, CEO, Changing Lives   

Kathy Betteridge, Director, Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery, The Salvation Army  

Paul Bott, CEO, SJOG Hospitaller Services 

Amber Cagney, Development Manager, West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network

Luke de Pulford, CEO, Arise Foundation

Jason Foo, CEO, BBD Perfect Storm

Red Godfrey-Sagoo, CEO, Sophie Hayes Foundation 

Nick Grono, CEO, The Freedom Fund 

Christian Guy, CEO, Justice & Care 

Martin Hancock, CEO, BCHA 

Meg Heath, Co-CEO, Palm Cove Society 

Wanjiku Mbugua-Ngotho, Acting Chief Executive, Bawso 

Peter McAllister, Executive Director, Ethical Trading Initiative 

Elysia McCaffrey, CEO, Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority 

Tim Nelson, CEO, Hope for Justice 

Ed Newton, CEO, City Hearts

Caroline O’Connor, CEO, Migrant Help 

Jasmine O’Connor OBE, CEO, Anti-Slavery International 

Tauhid Pasha, Acting Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM) UK 

Dr Rosie Riley, CEO, VITA 

Patrick Ryan, CEO, Hestia 

Dame Sara Thornton, UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner 

Dr Dora-Olivia Vicol, CEO, Work Rights Centre 

Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO, Unseen 

David Westlake, CEO, IJM UK 

Suggested UK welcome text for Ukrainian refugees 

Welcome to the United Kingdom. Your safety is a priority. Please read this vital information. 

As you leave the airport, port or train station: 

    • Don’t give your passport, mobile phone or residence permit to anyone 
    • Don’t leave children with anyone you don’t know 
    • Don’t give money to anyone offering you work, accommodation or transport


If you are concerned for your safety in the UK, please call for free the UK police on 999 or the UK Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline on 08000 121 700 

For free travel options Click here [this will link to a new website] 

For useful and trusted information Click here [this will link to a new website page detailing Citizens Advice, Helplines, relevant services etc] 

The UK stands with Ukraine

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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.