Support for Survivors of Slavery

What support is available for survivors of slavery in the UK?

To help support victims of modern slavery and trafficking, the British Government established a support system called the National Referral Mechanism, or NRM in 2009. Front line services such as police and local authorities refer potential victims into the system, where they are allocated housing and other practical and emotional support while they recover.

In 2015 the UK passed the Modern Slavery Act, which amongst other things, gave police greater powers to arrest perpetrators,  increased potential sentences for traffickers and exploiters, created the role of ‘Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’, and required big businesses to ensure no modern slavery is in their business or supply chain.

What happens when someone is identified as a potential victim of modern slavery? 

When someone is identified as a potential victim, they are asked if they want to be referred into the NRM system. Once there, they are supported in safe houses or similar, by organisations such as City Hearts while they wait for the Home Office to make a decision on whether they believe that person is a victim. Adults who are given a ‘positive reasonable grounds’ decision are given support, such as accommodation, money, and counselling, while they wait for a ‘conclusive grounds’ decision on their case. Local authorities support children.

Upon receiving a ‘positive conclusive grounds’ decision, they are given at least another 45 days of support, often in safe houses and outreach programmes such as those run by City Hearts, whilst those given a negative decision receive nine days of ‘move on’ support.

How City Hearts supports survivors

City Hearts runs fifteen safe houses across the North of England, where hundreds of survivors are supported by caseworkers to recover from their ordeal. We also run outreach programmes for survivors of slavery living in the community, and for those who have left our immediate care. Our caseworkers support survivors in accessing health care, counselling, education, and for those with the right to work in the UK - employment. As well as their short-term health and wellbeing needs, we also focus on the long-term recovery of clients by aiming to help raise their self-confidence and feelings of self-worth, so that they are able to navigate the world and live on their own with confidence. We do this by supporting them to make all their own decisions and calls, by taking them on day trips and outings into the community, and by holding regular drop-in sessions for clients to meet with each other and chat in an informal setting. We also make sure they feel supported and cared-for with regular ‘checking-in’ phone calls.

How you can support our work

City Hearts receives government funding as part of the NRM contract, but we also need to raise additional funding to provide the holistic care for our clients that helps with their long-term recovery prospects. Many people who have experienced modern slavery or human trafficking, experienced issues that made them vulnerable to exploitation, such as poverty, lack of education, previous trauma, lack of self-confidence, or low self-esteem. 

Our Integration Support Programmes aim to reduce the chances of a person being re-trafficked or exploited by addressing these vulnerabilities. We help clients access education, counselling and employment, signpost them to the housing and benefits they need, and provide activities, services, trips, and wellbeing sessions, that aim to raise their self-confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of self-worth.

You can help us provide these services by donating here:!/ or you can become a City Hearts Hero by downloading our fundraising pack and joining our community of fundraisers here: