A new pilot campaign has launched to help tackle modern slavery within the Nigerian community in the UK. It focuses on helping those trapped in domestic slavery (also known as illegal househelp), where victims are often kept against their will, mistreated and forced to work long hours with no pay.
Telling the story from the victim’s perspective, Spot the Signs, shows how ‘Theresa’ was promised a better life in the UK but when she arrived the family she was staying with took her passport away, denied her an education and subjected her to abuse. She is rescued when a church member was able to spot the signs that she was being held a domestic slave.
The short film, Spot the Signs was produced by award-winning Nigerian film maker Ogo Okpue, in partnership with the Salvation Army and child protection charity AFRUCA. The film drives home the importance of everyone looking out for signs of domestic slavery, which so often happens behind closed doors – from healthcare professionals to faith leaders and from shop keepers to local police. By anonymously reporting signs of slavery to the Modern Slavery helpline, victims can be taken out of that situation and given specialist support to get their life back.
The following signs may indicate someone is living in Domestic Slavery:
What conditions are they living in? Have they ever been harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care?
Do they stand out from other family members? Are they quieter, wearing poorer quality clothing etc?
Can they freely contact their friends or family?
Do they seem afraid or anxious?
Have their passport or documents been taken away?
Do they work in excess of normal working hours? Or seem to be on call 24 hours a day?
Spot the Signs is encouraging the community to report concerns, seek advice or get help by calling the UK Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700 or visit the website www.modernslaveryhelpline.org. It’s a 24-hour confidential service which provides victims and the public access to support and information concerning situations of Modern Day Slavery, free of charge.
Lucy, a call handler at the Modern Slavery Helpline explained:
“The victims that call us are usually very frightened. It is our job to gain their trust, let them know they’re not on their own and work with them and the public services available to establish the best route out of their current situation and help them get their lives back.”
“We’re urging those who think they’ve witnessed domestic slavery to call the Modern Slavery Helpline and report it. Every case is treated sensitively and victims who come forward can be safe in the knowledge that we will help them to access the services they need. Fully-trained call handlers are on hand 24/7, 365 days a year to provide help, guidance and support to anyone who calls.”
Justine Currell, CEO of Unseen explains how calling the Modern Slavery Helpline can save lives:
“Since its opening in October last year, the Modern Slavery Helpline has received hundreds of calls and has already assisted in helping several people across the UK out of the misery of domestic slavery. Reporting any potential signs of Domestic Slavery is critical as this information helps authorities connect the dots and take action.
It’s so hard to help those living in these extreme conditions as they are often too vulnerable to seek support and the abuse goes on behind closed doors. It means everyone has a role to play in reporting suspicions and ensuring people get the help they need. There is specialist support and safe houses available to victims but we need your help to identify and support them.”
The Modern Slavery Helpline deals with all forms types of modern slavery and creates a link between community groups, NGOs and government organisations. Through this service victims can be taken out of harmful situations and given specialist support to help rebuild their lives.