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man pixabayModern slavery referrals more than double in East 

101 people from the East of England have been identified as victims of modern slavery and referred into The Salvation Army’s specialist support service over the past year, a report released today has revealed.

It comes ahead of Anti-Slavery Day (18 October), which aims to raise awareness of modern slavery and the victims of this appalling crime.

The number of people referred from the East of England increased by 130 per cent compared to the same period a year ago, when 44 people were referred

The report outlines key data gathered during the seventh year of The Salvation Army’s government contract through which it has managed the delivery of specialist support services to all adult victims of modern slavery in England and Wales since July 2011.

Across England and Wales, a total of 1,856 people were referred into the service – an increase of 19 per cent compared with the same period a year ago - taking the total number of victims supported by the church and charity this year to 3,354.

The majority of victims were female with 1064 referred; 790 were males and two identified as transgender. The highest number of women were trafficked from Albania (308) and Nigeria (111), and the highest number of men were trafficked from Vietnam (130) followed by Romania (123) where there was a 173 per cent increase on the previous year.

45 per cent of victims were trafficked for labour exploitation, 42 per cent for sexual exploitation, and 14 per cent for domestic servitude.

The number of British adult victims nearly doubled in the past year with 86 referred between July 2017 and June 2018, up from 44 the year before – an increase of 95 per cent. Three victims referred from the East of England were British.

The Salvation Army saw a large increase in British victims referred following forced criminality in dealing drugs, often where traffickers used their addiction problems to coerce them. Their stories show how traffickers systematically target and exploit vulnerable people, those with mental health problems, people without secure family networks or experiencing homelessness or others with substance addiction.

Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army Kathy Betteridge says: “The increase in the number of British victims referred in the past year is significant; many are being forced into criminality and exploited because of their vulnerabilities.

“We have supported people from 86 different countries and every story is different. What is important is that anyone in this situation right now needs to know we are here to help and support is available to keep them safe and help them move on with their lives.

“Our dedicated referral line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we strongly urge anyone who sees something which doesn't look right, a person who seems to be in a situation against their will or without autonomy to please report it.

“This is a crime that is happening right across the country and we all need to play a part in supporting victims and bringing it to an end.”

The Salvation Army has held the government contract to provide specialist support to adult victims of modern slavery in England and Wales for seven years and has supported more than 7,000 victims in that time.

The report outlines the work The Salvation Army and its partners are doing to improve outcomes for victims of modern slavery. This includes working with organisations from the point of referral to providing support once people leave its care, including Border Force, the Department of Work and Pensions, high street banks, the Crown Prosecution Service and commissioners of substance misuse services.

The report covers how, alongside and often interlinked to the delivery of specialist support through its government contract, The Salvation Army runs programmes in the UK and overseas to extend support available to protect potential victims and those rebuilding their lives after exploitation.

Victims seeking help have been trafficked to or within England and Wales and are referred to The Salvation Army’s service through a dedicated referral line 0300 303 8151 available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A local example of modern slavery

J*, a 34-year-old British man, had battled substance abuse for many years until things began to spiral downwards and he became homeless. During this extremely vulnerable stage of his life, J was targeted by drug dealers who forced him to sell drugs on their behalf, without pay.

J’s relationship with the dealers quickly changed from false promises of money to threats and coercion making it impossible for him to escape his situation.

This nightmare ended when police became involved and recognised that J was a victim and not a perpetrator of these crimes. He was referred to The Salvation Army for support and moved to another part of the country, far from where his traffickers were operating. He was supported in a Salvation Army safe house for victims of modern slavery.

Specialist support workers worked with J to link him to local services, helping him with his substance abuse problems, and arranged for him to access a programme at a local gym, which gave him a meaningful activity each day and improved his health. In the meantime they worked alongside J to help him decide what he wanted to do with his newfound freedom.

Salvation Army support workers also helped J to access the benefits he was entitled to and address his debt issues to give him a fresh start. J recently received a positive conclusive grounds decision where authorities concluded that there is definitive evidence that he was a victim of modern slavery.

J was helped to find and move into independent accommodation in the same area as the safe house so he is able to keep in touch with staff as he progresses along the road to full recovery. The Salvation Army’s Victim Care Fund and other charitable support helped J secure a deposit and basic furniture to start his new life in his own flat. He is connected to a range of ongoing support networks and continues to address his addiction. J’s self-esteem is growing and he hopes eventually to become fully free of these problems to enable him to be ready to support himself through work.

“I was in a very difficult part of my life and being taken advantage of. After discovering the NRM, The Salvation Army has given me all the support I needed to start again and I am very optimistic for my future.”

*J’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

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