Our specialist care is an important step forward in the fight against slavery
Many survivors have had horrendous experiences. They are often unable to trust anyone, and experience flashbacks and live in constant fear. Our women’s and men’s safehouses provide a welcoming, safe and supportive environment so survivors can begin to get their lives back.
Unseen’s outreach services provides practical and emotional support to survivors living in the community, from accessing health services, to help navigating the immigration and asylum system. Some will be moving on from our safehouses and need support to resettle and integrate.
We work alongside survivors to identify their needs and assist them with:
“There is a little bit of sunshine visible here, being in this house. I feel like I have been saved.”
Harriet was one of the thousands of children exploited through County Lines trafficking.
Teenager Roman was trafficked to the UK and forced to work for free.
“I was unable to make decisions for myself. Now I make my own decisions.”
“They take my passport, said I must pay them £10,000 back.”
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.