Someone is moved by force, fraud, coercion or deception to be exploited. Exploitation can include:
Some people are trafficked so that their internal organs can be sold.
Debt bondage is a form of forced labour and happens when a person is forced to work to pay off a debt. They are tricked into working for little or no pay, with no control over their debt. This is thought to be the most widespread form of slavery today.
A child is exploited for someone else’s gain. This can include being trafficked, being forced to become a soldier or marry, or being kept in domestic servitude.
Download your free guide to County Lines Child Exploitation
Someone who is married against their will and can’t leave. Most child marriages can be considered slavery.
Someone is forced into crime such as carrying drugs, forced begging, theft or fraud.
Someone is forced to work in someone else’s home, perhaps cooking, cleaning and looking after children, with little freedom or pay.
Victims are forced to perform sexual acts.
Someone is born into slavery; they inherit the status of “slave” from their mother.
We rely on the generosity of people like you for a substantial part of our income. Please donate to support one of our safehouses.
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.
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.