‘She was left in limbo’ – breakthrough for slavery victim seeking home and security

A victim of trafficking who was exploited for three years has received indefinite leave to remain in the UK in the form of settled status.

The woman, in her 40s, was trafficked into the UK from another European country and forced to work for little or no pay. She has been a victim of human trafficking and of forced labour, working in factories, on farms and cleaning, all the while having her wages taken from her.

Changes to the government’s welfare system in 2014 drastically restricted her access to any financial provision, and without clear immigration status she was “left in limbo”, with no access to income, accommodation or support.

Earlier this year, the woman was referred to global anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice, who have been providing legal advice and advocacy for the victim ever since.

Image above shows Hope for Justice IMSA’s with a survivor of trafficking. Library image, does not show this case.

One of the charity’s advocates, who has led on the work, said: “This woman has endured years of hardship. She has had very little stability and was incredibly vulnerable. The systems in the UK had never been fully explained to her and she had never received the right support. She experienced a long period of homelessness and when we first met with her she had been stuck in limbo for a number of years.”

Since Hope for Justice became aware of the victim, the charity’s Independent Modern Slavery Advocate (IMSA) – who ensure that survivor’s legal rights and entitlements are upheld – has interceded on her behalf on a near-daily basis. Work has involved liaising with the council, with an accommodation provider, with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and solicitors, among others.

The IMSA said: “Receiving her settled status has been a big breakthrough. While there is still more work to be done, this is a huge step forward in her case, which will help us to secure her accommodation and financial stability in the UK going forward.”