Unseen UK has received funding to help them continue to run the Modern Slavery Helpline to support victims and potential victims of modern slavery in Cambridgeshire.

Victims of modern slavery are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Trafficked around the UK, they are forced to work for little or no money in places including hand car washes, nail bars and brothels. Slavery has many forms and can affect anyone. Men, women and children are forced into sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude and criminal exploitation, all for the greed and gratification of others. And the number of identified victims continues to increase every year.

A close up shot of a helpline advisor mid-call, wearing a headset.

The Modern Slavery Helpline is the only dedicated, independent and confidential service that exists to support potential victims of slavery to safety and provide guidance to anyone concerned about the issue, including frontline professionals, businesses and the general public. It is free to call, open 24/7 and provides real-time translation services in over 240 languages. There is no other expert service like it.

As the single point of contact for all issues related to modern slavery in the UK, the Helpline is now seen as a trusted and valued partner in the fight against this terrible crime. Working with police forces across the UK, the National Crime Agency, Border Force, the GLAA, NGOs and the business community, the Helpline is the platform through which we offer immediate support to investigate claims and identify and aid victims. The data collected through reports is aggregated and shared with partners to build a better understanding of how modern slavery is affecting our communities and our people.

The impact of the grant

Over the course of your grant period, helpline staff identified and supported 55 victims of labour abuse, criminal exploitation, and domestic servitude within Cambridgeshire. Unseen UK saw a marked increase in contacts from the victims themselves. The advisors built trust with these individuals, often over a number of phone calls. They explained the victim’s rights and the support they were entitled to. They offered vital information, resources and support, helping them escape their situation of exploitation and abuse.

The helpline offered a victim-centred service, tailoring its support to the needs and unique situation of each caller. Staff helped enter victims into the National Referral Mechanism so they could receive the support they were entitled to and build brighter, independent lives within the community.

The helpline advisors not only supported victims of modern slavery within Cambridgeshire, but also the local NHS, police and other frontline workers. Unseen UK produced reports which analysed recruitment and coercion methods within Cambridge, as well as contact volumes and victim demographics. Findings from this unique data set shaped local and national policing, as well as government strategies surrounding the safeguarding of vulnerable people. They indicated who was likely to be exploited and where modern slavery was occurring, improving Cambridgeshire’s and the UK’s collective resistance to slavery.

Cambridgeshire Community Foundation gave vital support to our helpline during a very crucial time, helping to ensure the service was there for those in Cambridgeshire who needed advice on modern slavery and assistance supporting victims.

Unseen UK