support katherine’s letter to Priti Patel

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Why a survivor is adamant Part 5 of the Nationality and Borders Bill must be dropped 

Unseen stands with victims of trafficking and slavery. Katherine* is a survivor in our service who has written to Priti Patel to demand that she doesn’t roll back past governments’ achievements in tackling slavery by the proposed new Nationality and Borders Bill.  

We urge you to sign Katherine’s petition today – simply fill in the form on this page to show your support to her and other potential survivors. 

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Letter to the Home Secretary

Dear Rt Hon Priti Patel

My name is Katherine. I was illegally brought to England by a man I trusted. He tricked me, then abused me – mentally and physically – and gave me no way to escape. The Nationality and Borders Bill will affect people like me, the people who have no choices in life. 

I’m writing this letter with the help of Unseen. Unseen gives us a voice, and I want to use mine to protect other vulnerable people like me who have been deceived, lied to, abused, controlled, treated like worthless human beings and forced to do criminal things they didn’t want to do. 

I was one of those people your authorities locked up in a detention centre. I was in line to be forcibly removed back to my native country in Eastern Europe, where my trafficker would be waiting – as he had done before. But it was only because one kind officer listened to my story and recognised I was a victim of trafficking that I was finally believed and given support to recover. 

If Part 5 is not dropped from the Nationality and Borders Bill, survivors like me will go undetected, and the cycle of abuse and exploitation will continue. The Bill will also go against the government’s commitment to tackle slavery. 

The Bill will:

  • Make it harder for survivors like me to get support  
  • Put a cruel deadline by when survivors must come forward and report their abuse and exploitation, otherwise we’ll be assumed to be lying 
  • Deny support to survivors who have a criminal record – but what happens if that person was forced to commit those crimes by their exploiter?

People like me should talk to the police. It helps prosecute exploiters. But it’s hard, and it takes time to talk about what happened. The Nationality and Borders Bill will make it harder and victims will not be found. 

This safehouse (where I am now) has given me strength. But I’m worried about the people like me, people who wouldn’t be allowed support, who don’t talk, the people who still have no choices in life.  

Yours sincerely


*Katherine is not her real name

Further information:

Katherine’s full story

A joint letter from more than 100 non-profit NGOs to MPs on the disastrous impact of the Bill’s Part 5 on modern slavery survivors

The full draft of the Nationality & Borders Bill

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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.