Borders Bill: listening to survivors will help them get the support they need
published on 9 Aug 2021
The Salvation Army is calling for the voice of slavery survivors to be central in the current debate around the Borders Bill.
Through our years of work with people rescued after being forced to work as slaves, we know that silence masks violence, trauma and abuse.
The UK has positioned itself as a global leader in the battle against modern slavery and we want to ensure that the Borders Bill builds on this work which includes the ground-breaking support introduced with the Modern Slavery Act (2015).
Major Kathy Betteridge, Director of Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army, explains:
“Our ten years of experience supporting survivors of modern slavery has taught us that it can be almost impossible to immediately understand the true background of someone seeking help. Often, we are dealing with frightened and traumatised individuals who have endured months of being forced into slave labour and other exploitative situations.
“Criminal gangs have lied to them and threatened their families, so it’s understandable that they can have doubts and find it difficult to explain their story. It can take time and skill to gain trust and unpick the circumstances that brought them to the UK so they can receive the support and protection they need and deserve.
“Over the coming months it is important that the true nature of modern slavery and human trafficking and its impact on survivors is understood and factored into decisions around the new legislation. This is key to protecting people and gaining information needed to combat the slavery traffickers.”
The Salvation Army intends to help all those involved in this debate gain an accurate understanding of the true experiences of survivors.
Alongside our partners, we are committed to working collaboratively with parliamentarians and other organisations to ensure the voices of slavery survivors are heard within the debates surrounding this new bill and that any legislative changes work towards genuinely raising the level of support we are able to offer survivors.
The Salvation Army sees the Borders Bill as an opportunity make it as easy for slavery survivors to access support by giving them the space to speak out. In particular the Bill must ensure:
- survivors are not penalised for being forced into criminal activity by their captors.
- survivors are afforded the time and space they need to give an accurate picture of often traumatic and complicated events that led to their entrapment and exploitation.
- The threshold for accessing support does not block victims from getting the help they need