Bridging the support gap for survivors of modern slavery

Hope for Justice and its partners are opening a new house to offer a place to live for survivors of modern slavery as they begin the restoration process – which we hope will be the first of many, providing accommodation all over the country.

The house, in Cambridge, forms the first phase of The Bridge Project, which we are launching because housing instability is one of the most pressing issues for survivors of modern slavery. It has a huge impact on mental health and continuity of care – but The Bridge Project will ensure survivors have that stability and assurance.

The Cambridge house has been launched in partnership with C3 Church and homelessness charity Hope into Action.

‘The Bridge – Cambridge’ will meet the three primary support needs of housing, community and advocacy by bringing together specialist organisations in each of these areas. This will form the first stage of a wider vision to empower communities across the UK to meet the growing need for long-term support for survivors of modern slavery.

Hope for Justice UK Advocacy Manager, Janet Fisher, said: “Long-term support is essential in providing victims with a voice, with life choices and with a platform for recovery, ensuring they do not fall into destitution or even back into exploitation. 

“Partnership working is key, as victims often present with multiple and complex needs. We are excited to partner with other organisations who are as passionate as we are about restoring lives of people affected by modern slavery.”

The lounge at 'The Bridge - Cambridge' house for two survivors of modern slavery

The lounge at ‘The Bridge – Cambridge’ house for two survivors of modern slavery

Andrew Harris, Executive Pastor at The C3 Church, said: “C3 is passionate about offering practical, emotional and community support to victims of modern-day slavery. As a church we want to see lives rebuilt, dignity restored and hope return to those who have suffered exploitation. Building a community of people who can minister love and provide a haven of hope is critical if we are to see victims of trafficking empowered and restored to their full worth. This can only be achieved as we work alongside other key specialist partner organisations who have the same passion to see an end to such exploitation.”

The garden at 'The Bridge - Cambridge' house

The garden at ‘The Bridge – Cambridge’ house

In recent years, consensus has been growing in the anti-trafficking community that there is a huge support gap in UK provision for survivors of modern slavery, leaving a ‘cliff-edge’ drop-off after the initial period of support offered under the government-funded National Referral Mechanism (NRM). This is one of the reasons Hope for Justice is backing the #FreeForGood campaign in favour of a new law improving victim care. Better victim care is necessary not just for victims themselves, but also to improve prosecution and conviction rates of traffickers.

Hope for Justice has built an evidence base showing that a lack of specialist accommodation for survivors after they leave an NRM safe house significantly lengthens the time it takes for them to recover from their trafficking experience, because their need for community integration and stability isn’t met.

The Bridge will create stability for survivors, through partnerships with landlords who share our vision to provide quality accommodation and who understand the needs of those we support. The local church can also help to provide a safe, trusting and supportive community.

Hope for Justice’s specialist advocacy team of Independent Modern Slavery Advocates will work with survivors and partners to help overcome the frequent and challenging legal obstacles that survivors face. With these key elements in place, survivors can have the confidence and support to find work that makes best use of their skills, building a better, hope-filled future.

Janet Fisher added: “We look forward to expanding The Bridge Project across the UK with organisations who share the same heart and expertise, restoring lives of people we rescue and reforming society towards a future free from slavery.”