New film for people working with modern slavery survivors
published on 5 May 2022
A new film by The Salvation Army seeks to help agencies most likely to encounter modern slavery to better understand what survivors need to recover and how the support systems it delivers through a Government contract operate.
Different organisations, like police, local authorities and government agencies also come into contact with survivors but may not fully understand who they are and what challenges they face as they try to overcome the trauma of being exploited. The Salvation Army’s film was made to help viewers gain a deeper appreciation of the people we work with and how we engage with them to help them feel at ease.
It follows the journey of one survivor helped by The Salvation Army called ‘Sanu’. He shares his story of exploitation, how he’s been helped since police rescued him and what he now hopes for his future. Staff and volunteers from The Salvation Army’s Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery team explain how they engage with people like ‘Sanu’ at different stages to help them to overcome the challenges they face.
The Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract
The Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract (MSVCC) is part of government efforts to protect and support people who become victims of modern slavery. The Salvation Army holds this contract and works with a number of other charities and partners to fulfil it, supporting 1,000’s of people each year through its network of safe houses and outreach support.
The contract enables all adult survivors of modern slavery in England and Wales to receive the practical and emotional help they need as they rebuild their lives. This includes financial help, access to medical and legal assistance, counselling services and a safe place to stay if needed.
‘Sanu’ was held for six years before police rescued him and he was taken to a Salvation Army safe house. He had fallen victim to a man who groomed him and then took full control of his life, removing his documents and forcing him to work 100 hours every week for six years without proper pay.
‘Sanu’ says: “I thought it was the end of my life.”
Narrated by Jenny Gibson, who works as a Service Manager in The Salvation Army’s Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery team, the film hears from the following people who each play a key part in supporting survivors of modern slavery.
The First Responder
Ellen is from the First Responder team which meets people when they are first rescued to help them explain what has happened to them. They then send this information to the Home Office for them to decide if there is enough information to suggest that the person may have been a victim of modern slavery. If so, they are entitled to the support The Salvation Army delivers. Ellen says:
“There’s no one experience of modern slavery, we speak to people from very diverse backgrounds; of all ages; nationalities; genders, and it’s important we act with as much empathy and understanding as possible, and make that experience as easy as possible for that person.”
The Referral Team
When a survivor has been accepted by the Home Office for support, Shelley from the Referral team works with each individual to make sure they are safe, and find out what help they need. Shelley says:
“A lot of our job is about listening and taking time with each individual survivor to find out about their wellbeing - physical and mental health - so we can assess what support we can put in place as soon as possible for that person.”
The Volunteer Driver
John is a volunteer driver, who transports survivors to somewhere safe, away from where they might be at risk. The team of volunteer drivers is ready to take on a journey at any time or from any place in England and Wales. John says:
“We get people who’ve been through very traumatic experiences. Quite often they are nervous, anxious and don’t understand quite what’s going on with them. It’s common they don’t speak English but, with help of the translation services we’re given, we can provide that extra bit of information and reassurance so they can feel comfortable about the situation they will be moving to.”
The Specialist Support Worker
Ben is a specialist support worker who works with survivors in safe houses and outreach to help them access the support they need. Ben says:
“My job is to make sure that while they are with us survivors are taken care of and treated with dignity. We support them but also to try to give them some independence, hopefully build up their own resilience and show them ways they can live independently.”
Networks of Support
The systems of support for survivors of modern slavery are complex but need to be flexible and accommodating to the many and varied needs of the people supported through the MSVCC. Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army, Kathy Betteridge explains:
“In this film, our staff and volunteers tell us that many of the people they meet through their work are extremely fearful and traumatised by what has happened to them. They understand how important it is to provide the right environment and enough time and opportunities to describe to us how they feel and what they need.
“However survivors of modern slavery may have to engage with staff in lots of different organisations – places like local authorities; government departments and law enforcement agencies. We hope that this film will help other professionals gain a deeper understanding of the people whose lives have been devastated by modern slavery, so they become equipped to help these vulnerable people move on with their lives.”
A Brighter Future
‘Sanu’ is now working with his support team to plan his next steps. The film closes with ‘Sanu’ telling viewers about his ambitions for the future; he concludes:
“One day I want to see myself working and serving this country with my dignity, honesty. I want to make a family and friends. I just want to make a simple life. That’s it. Not much.”