Charities, business representatives and parliamentarians gathered in Parliament yesterday for the launch of Free for Good - the UK’s campaign for The Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill.
Last year, a highly critical report by the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee said there was an “inexcusable” lack of support for the estimated 13,000 modern slavery victims in the UK, with many victims ending up destitute and homeless.
The Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill introduced by Lord McColl will help address this problem by giving victims of modern slavery in England and Wales a guaranteed right to support in law. It will ensure victims get support not just in the initial period while the National Referral Mechanism makes a decision about whether they are a modern slavery victim, but those confirmed to be victims they will also have the option of a further 12 months assistance afterwards including leave to remain in the UK in this period. This is a crucial safety net, which will go a long way towards helping modern slavery victims recover and rebuild their lives.
“I’m putting forward this Bill to ensure the commitment of the UK to support the victims of slavery until they recover for good Free for Good” – Lord McColl
Attendees at the launch heard from anti-trafficking charities who work directly with victims of modern slavery about why the support the Bill offers is crucial. Currently the Government only provides victims with a limited period of care on a non-statutory basis whilst the authorities decide if the person is a victim, but then the support end.
“How we can expect victims of modern slavery to recover from their trauma in just 45 days?” – Frank Field MP
Charities and companies at the launch pledged to encourage members of the public to email their MPs urging them to support the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill and asking them to press the Prime Minister to give the Bill time to get through the House of Lords and into the House of Commons.
CARE’s Senior Policy Officer - Human Trafficking, Louise Gleich
“CARE is pleased to be part of this vital campaign. It was so encouraging to see the committee room in Parliament full of people dedicated to challenging the Government to put victims first in their fight against modern slavery”
“When a person is rescued from modern slavery they need help, most of all they need stable accommodation and financial support to give them a secure foundation as they look to the future.”
“The Government has said it wants to lead the world in efforts to address modern slavery. Tackling modern slavery must state with supporting victims to live free for good.”
To get involved and help modern slavery victims live free for good simply log onto www.freeforgood.org.uk where you can send an email to your MP asking them to support the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill.
You can share about the website and the campaign on social media using the hashtag #freeforgood.