12:24, September 07 285 0 theguardian.com

2018-09-07 12:24:17
Support the bill to help victims of modern slavery

A year after peers overwhelmingly supported a bill to improve care for victims of modern slavery, we wonder how many victims have become homeless or re-trafficked in that time. Conservative peer Lord McColl of Dulwich’s modern slavery (victim support) bill seeks to fill the gaps through which too many victims fall, with many becoming homeless and at risk of repeated exploitation. The bill would also give victims the stability they need to assist with prosecutions, greatly increasing the chance of more traffickers being convicted.

Last October, the government proposed reforms to the victim-care system and yet the only changes to have been implemented are cuts to victims’ financial support. This is unconscionable. We are also concerned that the proposed 45 days of additional support is not enough to put victims on the road to recovery, and is likely to simply postpone the point at which people find themselves homeless and vulnerable to re-trafficking. Victims need at least the 12 months’ support offered by the bill if we are to prevent this happening.

Theresa May wants Britain to lead the world in tackling modern slavery. More than 25,800 people have signed a petition asking the prime minister to lead the way for victims, thousands more have emailed their support to MPs and ministers. It is time for her to give effect to this aspiration by offering sufficient support for victims who are here in the UK. She should adopt the bill, which has now reached the Commons sponsored by Frank Field MP, as her own, and give it time to become law as soon as possible.

We urge the prime minister and home secretary not to let this opportunity pass.

Jasmine O’Connor, chief executive officer, Anti-Slavery International

Helen Dickinson, chief executive, British Retail Consortium

Nola Leach, chief executive, Care

Steve Murrells, chief Executive, Co-op Group

Liisa Wiseman, project manager, Birmingham Methodist District’s Adavu Project

Lara Bundock, CEO, Snowdrop Project

Red Godfrey-Sagoo, CEO, Sophie Hayes Foundation

Bharti Patel, CEO, Ecpat UK

Ben Cooley, chief executive, Hope for Justice

David Westlake, CEO, International Justice Mission UK

Karen Anstiss, service manager, Caritas Bakhita House

Joanna Ewart-James, executive director, Freedom United

Phil McCarthy, CEO, Caritas Social Action Network

Amy Agnew, Europe director, Global Citizen

Louise Gore, Equiano project manager; The Jericho Foundation

Rita Gava, director, Kalayaan

Zarin Hainsworth, chair, National Alliance of Women’s Organisations

Tom Stancliffe, chief executive, Tribe Freedom Foundation

Sister Lynda Dearlove, CEO, women@thewell

Clarissa Drysdale-Anderson, director, YouCanFreeUs

Luke de Pulford, director, Arise Foundation

Kerry Smith, CEO, Helen Bamber Foundation

Sister Colette Cronin, congregational leader of Institute of Our Lady of Mercy

Maureen Meatcher, president, National Board of Catholic Women

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