Safehouses and work in the community – always there for survivors
Survivors will always remain at the heart of what we do and in 2022 our Frontline Services team, which has day-to-day contact with survivors, passed a milestone.
We have now worked with more than 500 people through our Outreach service and over 250 residents have stayed at one of our safehouses. In 2022 alone, our casework team worked with more than 250 women and men.
“They are very understandable and ready to help me especially when l feel myself completely down and very broken,” one safehouse resident says.
“l really need their support; they come and check me all the time and this makes me feel that l am not alone.”
Our support ranges from practical assistance, such as helping survivors navigate the health system and get legal support for an asylum claim, to group activities such as cooking, sports, trips to the beach and wellbeing sessions.
Help includes ordinary things many of us take for granted, such as being able to visit the dentist. In 2022, for example, we worked with the charity Dentaid to organise check-ups and essential dental work for some survivors.
Check out some of the stories of survivors we’ve worked with.
Unseen’s helpline – busier than ever
Unseen’s Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline is busier than ever and we’re now getting more calls than pre-pandemic levels.
In 2022, our expert advisors dealt with an increase in calls of 13.5% in the first half of the year, compared to the same period the previous year.
Our advisors are professionally trained and work with potential victims, the public, businesses, NGOs, and statutory agencies such as the police, local authorities, and the NHS.
The Helpline provides crucial data and insights that are invaluable in shaping other organisations’ and government approaches to modern slavery.
We’re currently crunching the numbers and trends for the whole year and will report on this in the spring of 2023.
To meet the increased demand, we’ve got more Helpline staff than ever ready to support and respond.
We’ve also recruited the biggest data team we’ve ever had, providing unique and insightful analysis to inform policy and working practices – so your support is needed more than ever.
More on the Helpline’s work at www.unseenuk.org/helpline-day-in-the-life
Unseen is better for your business
Millions of women, men and children are trapped in forced labour through the operations and supply chains of businesses – from fashion to farming and fishing; from construction to chocolate (pictured above).
So companies big and small have an important part to play in ending modern slavery.
Many large businesses also have huge economic influence, so by encouraging changes in their suppliers’ approach as well as in their operations, they can make an enormous difference.
Unseen’s Business Services team works to raise awareness among individuals and organisations of forced labour, child labour and other forms of modern slavery.
This education is key to tackling modern slavery and in 2022, we gave 50 training sessions to more than 70 businesses and statutory agencies, including local authorities.
We have now reached more than 50,000 employees though our e-learning modules.
The team also advises businesses on how to identify and address potential gaps and exploitation risks both in their own, and their suppliers’ operations.
In 2022 Ocado, Thatchers and Indeed Flex are among the high-profile names that began working with us, while long-term partner Nestle is among those who joined our Business Portal.
Coalition to stop slavery – strength in numbers
They always say the sum is greater than the parts. With this in mind, in 2022, 17 human rights organisations came together under the banner of the Coalition to Stop Slavery for a new awareness-raising campaign – #itstimetostopslavery.
Kicking off at the beginning of October and peaking around Anti-Slavery Day itself on 18 October, the campaign was co-led by Unseen and included a new website urging people to learn the signs of exploitation and how to report them (clue: ring Unseen’s Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline).
Central to the campaign were two new commercials made by the team behind the famous John Lewis Christmas ads.
There was also a petition urging the Government to ban the import of all products tainted by forced labour.
At the time of writing the campaign had reached 6.7 million people on social media and the films been viewed more than 3.3 million times.
And if you happened to be in central London on Anti-Slavery Day when the campaign was in full swing, you would have seen the Helpline number in lights on the BT Tower.
It’s great to have friends in high places.
A voice for modern slavery survivors
Unseen has long had ambitions for survivors of modern slavery to help guide and inform what we do.
As a result, in 2022 we launched our first Survivor Consultants Group, which meets regularly with staff to ensure survivors are regularly inputting into the many areas of our work.
“I was able to learn more about the organisation and the challenges it faces,” says one member of the group.
“I also become more aware that there is sadly a high demand for the work carried out by Unseen.”
Our goal is not only to learn from survivor experiences, but also to provide work experience and training to enable them to move into permanent work when ready.
In September, for example, one survivor gave a speech at the London launch of the Survivor Financial Empowerment Hub, organised by fellow anti-slavery charity The Tribe Freedom Foundation.
This initiative aims to bring together banks and NGOs to tackle financial exploitation, and includes big names such as HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide and Natwest.
Our Consultant, who has a background in finance, talked about the importance of financial independence in helping recovery and making people less vulnerable to slavery.
Recalling the day, she said: “Today was a day when I was able to forget my past for a bit. I was excited and nervous, but I felt secure. In the future, I’d like to be part of more events like this and contribute my experience and skills further.”
When there are thousands of vulnerable people on the move, as in the Ukraine war, there are traffickers who will prey on them – offering lifts, for example, or the promise of accommodation and work.
Such was the case in the Ukraine war that began in 2022, and Unseen led a coalition of NGOs in a major response to this.
This included building the Ukrainians Welcome website and persuading Vodafone Ukraine to send a text message to all Ukrainians arriving in the UK, signposting them to the Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline and the website.
We worked with fellow charities STOP THE TRAFFIK and Hope for Justice to distribute thousands of leaflets featuring the website, to ports and other entry points, and to Ukrainian community groups across the UK.
Our work inspired the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to build a pan-European website for Ukrainians to access support wherever they ended up.
OSCE also loved the simplicity and effectiveness of the text message idea (as did others: the campaign has picked up an advertising industry award).
As a result, we are working with the OSCE to persuade all the Ukrainian telecoms companies to do the same across Europe.
The helpline at the commonwealth games
Unseen made its debut at none other than the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
We teamed up with fellow charity It’s A Penalty and top athletes Usain Bolt, Ellie Simmonds, Cathy Freeman, Asha Philip, plus netball sisters Sasha and Kadeen Corbin, to raise awareness of human trafficking and promote our Helpline during the Games.
With the games reaching around 180 million people worldwide, this this is an example of great partnership working as our Helpline had the chance to be seen by millions of households.
But that’s not all. In the run up to the games Unseen’s Eva Daly (pictured above) was nominated to carry the Commonwealth baton through Bristol, in the final stages of its epic journey through 72 nations on its way to the games. Read the full story.
Towards a world without slavery
Unseen is working towards a world without slavery, and an important part of that is persuading governments to recognise the scale of the problem and legislate wisely to tackle all forms of exploitation.
To this end we are part of a coalition of international NGOs that has persuaded the G7 to commit to doing more to tackle forced labour in supply chains, and that work continued to progress through 2022.
The EU, for example, brought forward legislation to make businesses and their suppliers carry out mandatory human rights due diligence.
We are working alongside others to prepare the ground for similar legislation in the UK.
Other successes include:
- Working with others to bring forward legislation that would ban all goods tainted by forced labour being sold in the UK.
- Supporting organisations that succeeded in amending the Health Care Act so that the NHS cannot buy products tainted by forced labour.
This is hugely important given the recent scandals of PPE made by forced labour in Malaysia and China finding its way into our health service.
It also amounts to the biggest step forward in anti-slavery legislation since the Modern Slavery Act of 2015.
- Working with others to bring forward an amendment in the Government Procurement Bill which will prevent all Government purchases of goods tainted by forced labour.
We wait to see if the government will accept the amendment, but things are looking positive as we write this.
All these things advance the cause of ending modern slavery by slowly turning off the tap.
A big thank you
Thanks for your support in 2022. Help us keep up the fight against human trafficking, forced labour, County Lines and all forms of modern slavery in 2023.
Check out all the ways you can support us by clicking the button below.