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05 May 2017

The next government must do more to help slavery survivors, CARE says

The next government must do more to help slavery survivors, CARE says

Slavery victims are being left destitute and the next government must do more to help, an Alliance member is saying this week.

Christian charity CARE responded to a report published on Sunday by the Work and Pensions Committee, where MPs described the "inexcusable" failures of the systems in place to care for those who are trafficked and forced into slavery.

The MPs also said that traffickers are going unpunished under the current system. 

CARE's senior policy officer for human trafficking, Louise Gleich, who gave evidence to the Department of Work and Pension's Committee, said: "CARE's end goal is that we want victims of human trafficking to be able to integrate into society and lead fulfilling lives, but this can only happen if we make it easy for victims to get the support and help that they need."

The inquiry focussed on the initial 45 days of safe house care offered by the government, for "reflection and recovery", while their case is considered.

Once this period is elapsed, the victim must move out of the safe house and is not guaranteed any further help or assistance. There are a few charities that work from 'day 46' with victims, like The Sophie Hayes Foundation. 

The MPs on the committee heard from survivors who had faced extreme difficulties in accessing benefits and housing after leaving the safe house, with some left homeless, destitute and afraid. 

Because of these difficulties, many of these survivors are at severe risk of being re-trafficked.

Louise Gleich said: "CARE calls upon the next government to take action on this issue to prevent further victims of human trafficking from falling through the cracks.

"It's clear that current support for individuals recognised as human trafficking victims is inadequate and therefore in urgent need of reform."

"The committee have recognised serious barriers which stop human trafficking victims from being able to access the support they are not only entitled to, but severely need so that they do not end up destitute and homeless."

CARE stresses the importance of benefits for survivors, such as money for food and housing, as they restore dignity to trafficking victims, help them feel safe and are essential for them to live their day-to-day lives. 

CARE's senior policy officer added: "The special circumstances of human trafficking victims need to be recognised in the system and allowances made; all frontline staff at council offices and job centres need to be trained in how to respond to the needs of human trafficking victims and support them through the complexity of the benefits process."

In the report, the Committee recommended 12 months of support for victims of human trafficking, which CARE believes will allow victims time to recover and heal in a safe environment and give them the strength to help out with any criminal investigations into their perpetrators. 

 

As a member of the Evangelical Alliance, CARE is one of 600 organisations supported by the Alliance. We facilitate members' initiatives and campaigns and offer support to increase their impact. Member organisations have an opportunity to speak to the media on behalf of our membership, as we direct media and information enquiries to member organisations best placed to deal with them. The Alliance also provides training for organisations on how to engage with the local government and media.  

If you would like your organisation to become a member of the Evangelical Alliance, you can find out more here.