Modern Slavery Survivors write to PM with fears on Bill
published on 12 Jul 2023
A group of survivors of modern slavery who are supported by The Salvation Army and its partners have written to the Prime Minister to outline their fears that the Illegal Migration Bill will have a negative impact on survivors in the future if it passes without change.
The survivors, who asked The Salvation Army to pass on their letter to the Prime Minister, explain how they may not be alive today had they not been sheltered in safehouses and given specialist support to recover from their abuse.
They fear the Illegal Migration Bill will prevent other victims being able to access the lifesaving support they received.
The group of survivors sign the letter using only initials or pseudonyms to maintain their anonymity as threats and brutal treatment by their traffickers have left them in fear of disclosing their real names in public. However, they were determined to advocate for people trapped in slavery now and in the future.
Each signatory has received help through the Government’s Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract which is delivered by The Salvation Army. Having had access to a range of help including safe accommodation; translation services; counselling; financial, medical and legal assistance, many survivors are now able to contribute to society in a variety of roles with examples given in the letter including; “care workers, chefs, lorry drivers, students, dentists, solicitors, volunteers and many more.”
They go on to express regret that the Illegal Migration Bill was brought in without consultation with people who have lived experience of modern slavery and offer their help to parliamentarians and other decision-makers considering this issue.
The letter closes by calling on the Prime Minister to have compassion and care when considering the impact of the Illegal Migration Bill on people’s lives.
Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
10 Downing Street
SW1A 2AA 12 July 2023
Dear Prime Minister,
We write to you as survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery receiving support from different services at The Salvation Army. We believe the Illegal Migration Bill will have a very negative impact on survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery.
This Bill not only removes all the support that has been provided to the survivors, but it will also enable the authority to detain and remove the survivors and put them at a disadvantage position. We had an opportunity to recover from the trauma we went through only because of the support we received in different ways, such as being accommodated at the safe houses, had regular meeting from our support workers who treated us with dignity and respect, receiving physical and mental health support and legal support and much more.
Without this support, some of us would not be alive today to talk about the importance of protection for the survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking. Most of us have been taken away from traffickers in a horrendous situation, traumatised, fragile, wounded, without any money, documentation and hungry. We were put in a safe place where we saw humanity for the first time after a very long time.
This Bill stops the survivors from receiving support and will make Britain a place where perpetrators of human trafficking and modern slavery can thrive, and victims of trafficking become invisible. They will tell the survivors there is no hope for you, even if you report your experience, you will be removed from the country and be told that this is the best place for you to be. When people trafficked into the country, their traffickers have absolute control of them. Traffickers use the threat of detention and deportation to stop their victims from coming forward and engaging with the authorities.
When I came to this country, I was tricked by my ex-manager; I was not prepared for that. I was trapped in the place and didn’t know what to do. Finally I decided to leave. When I left, I left travel documents and my ex-manager never returned my documents to me. I did not know where to report. I was scared and don’t have no one in the UK and that’s why it makes it harder.
The safe house we were living in was more than a home for us. It was the only place we felt safe. During the Covid 19 period, some of us were very isolated and our support workers were the only people we could see, and this helped our recovery process to become quicker.
Today we are contributing within society in different roles such as care workers, chef, lorry drivers, students, dentists, solicitors, volunteers and many more. We pride ourselves in being empowered, independent and it’s all because of the protection this country offered to us to recover from slavery, trauma and to build our future.
The legislative process of the Illegal Migration Bill has been rushed, and there has been no consultation with survivors. At The Salvation Army we are a large pool of survivors. We would like to offer our consultation as experts with lived experience of modern slavery and human trafficking. We believe the people passing this Bill have not experienced what we have experienced yet are making provisions that will have a devastating impact on survivors of this horrible crime. We must lead with compassion and care and not scare monger with a harmful narrative.
We request you consider the real-life impact of what the Illegal Migration Bill will do to victims of trafficking.
Survivors of modern slavery involved with The Salvation Army’s survivor inclusion engagement activities.