The Passage Modern Slavery Service Annual Report 2020/2021
After recognising the link between modern slavery and homelessness, the navigator project was commissioned by Westminster City Council and funded by the MHCLG and has been crucial for sustained trauma-informed support. This service is currently open to referrals from providers and services in Westminster and we will work alongside partner organisations to see how this model can be shared with other local authorities and providers to better address the issue of modern slavery and homelessness.
The modern slavery service provides support before people enter the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), during the NRM and post-NRM. Evidence suggests that asking an individual to make big decisions, such as consenting to enter the NRM when they are tired and hungry is not trauma informed and true informed consent cannot be achieved. Therefore, when a potential victim sleeping rough is identified, they are placed into emergency accommodation and given the opportunity to rest before exploring all their options with the Modern Slavery Navigator. We do acknowledge that some emergency situations do not allow for this ‘rest’ period and we must get the victim to a safe place immediately. The strategic partnerships in place with Westminster City Council (WCC) have been and continue to be vital to the sustainability of this service.
The Passage Modern Slavery Service – Victim support findings
Between April 2020 and March 2021, The Passage has supported 34 potential and confirmed victims of modern slavery from 19 different nationalities, all of whom were homeless at the time of identification (59% were rough sleeping). The 2 predominant countries of nationality were Poland (26%) and Romania (18%). Most of the victims identified were male (65%) aged between 19 and 57. The prevalent form of modern slavery was labour exploitation although we also supported victims of domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, forced marriage and forced criminality.
Just under half of the people we supported refused to enter the NRM but continued to be supported to access Passage services, including primary services (food, showers, toiletries), mental health services, financial advice, registration to a GP, immigration advice, relocation, resettlement and reconnection, and referrals to other specialist agencies. Of those who did enter the NRM (44%) 11 received a positive reasonable grounds decision and are receiving support under the Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract. 1 person received negative reasonable grounds but is still supported by The Passage. We supported 4 people during NRM support, 1 received positive conclusive grounds decision, 1 disengaged from the NRM and was supported by the Passage into a local authority tenancy, 1 is still in a Government funded safe house and 1 disengaged from the NRM and Passage services. Of the people we supported post-NRM, 1 disengaged from services and 1 received permanent social housing.
The report concludes that overall, The Passage Modern Slavery Service has achieved 77% of positive outcomes and therefore has a clear positive impact on our service users.
A set of 7 recommendations have been proposed including for the navigator project to be shared with local authorities and other providers; to make changes to the NRM form to ensure that homelessness is captured and recorded; national research to be undertaken to explore the links between modern slavery and homelessness.
A full copy of the report and our recommendations can be found here.
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Júlia Tomás, is Anti-Slavery Coordinator, at The Passage.