You’re My Guardian Angel!

July 16th, 2018

Adavu Project Manager Liisa Wiseman reflects on her organisation’s work with survivors of modern slavery.

Modern Slavery is the term used in the UK to describe the crimes of holding a person in a position of slavery, servitude, or forced /compulsory labour. Men, women and children can be victims of labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, domestic servitude, or forced involvement in criminal activities.

The Adavu Project was founded in 2011 and aims to raise awareness of, and provide an effective response to, the ‘hidden’ issue of modern slavery in the West Midlands.  Our main area of work is to provide long term support and advocacy for adult survivors of modern slavery, for whom freedom from slavery is just one of many steps on their journey.

The survivors we support face financial, legal and emotional challenges alongside recovery from the physical effects of being exploited. Most of our referrals are for women and men who are leaving government funded short term safe house accommodation. Many are facing a move into a completely new community, and have no experience of how to deal with the complex systems of housing, benefits, healthcare that they have to use.

Adult survivors of human trafficking are particularly vulnerable to poverty, homelessness, or re-exploitation. As well as needing practical and financial resources, they often lack supportive relationships and the necessary confidence, knowledge and skills to be able to take the steps they need to access help.

Adavu offers a package of integrated and ongoing support to help survivors to take the next steps towards developing life skills, accessing benefits, training, education, and employment as well as access to trauma and therapeutic provision. We are based in Birmingham, but take referrals across the West Midlands police force region as capacity allows. Over the past two years we have supported over 60 survivors of modern slavery in rebuilding independent and fulfilled lives.  Here is just one example of those we have helped:

Tim’s Story

When ‘Tim’ was first referred to Adavu, his benefits had been stopped due to a misunderstanding at the Job Centre, he had no food in his cupboards, and was in desperate need of emergency dental and medical care, because he didn’t know how to register with local healthcare services. Adavu were able to provide emergency food and clothing parcels, and helped Tim to access medical treatment.

Over time, we were able to support Tim to move into more suitable, permanent accommodation, and once sufficiently recovered, to find suitable employment. Tim is now flourishing, but came dangerously close to being street homeless, or re-trafficked, due to his inability to navigate a complex and unfamiliar system alone.

Here are some recent quotes from our clients:

“You’re my guardian angel. You show me how to do things, you help me. You explain everything”

“Without you I wouldn’t have had he strength to do it”

“You’re the only one who’s helped me, I am so glad you’re here”

To find out more about Adavu go to www.adavu.org.uk, call 0121 647 1960, email info@adavu.org.ukor,or follow us on Twitter at @AdavuProject or Facebook at AdavuProject.

For advice or to share concerns about a possible situation of modern slavery, please contact the national Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

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