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Tackling Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

Unseen's Work

Unseen is working towards a world without slavery. The fastest growing crime worldwide, modern slavery and human trafficking is ruining the lives of men, women and children across the globe. Shockingly, it is estimated that over 45 million people are trapped in slavery right now.

A person is in slavery when they are forced to work, or serve, another person and do not have the freedom to leave. People are bought and sold to be enslaved for many different purposes, such as forced labour, sexual exploitation or working in a private home. A hidden crime, people are often trafficked to work in massage parlours, nail bars, farms, hotels and hand car washes.

Ava's Story

Ava’s husband and daughter were shot in her home country by an extremist group on Christmas Eve a few years back. She is a Muslim and he was a Christian. Ava was left traumatised and in fear for her own life.

Ava’s husband’s boss told her he would arrange for her to escape the country to find safety. He asked her to bring him any money she had and he bought flight tickets for them both. When they arrived in the UK he told her that he was leaving her to buy some food. He never came back. Another man approached Ava and asked her what was the matter. When she explained her situation, he advised her to come with him otherwise she would be arrested and deported. Unsure of what to do, terrified of being returned home, she went with him.

At his house, Ava was locked in. Her passport was taken away. She was raped daily by different men. Ava was trapped and had no way of letting anyone know.

“I was forced to be with men who I didn’t know. They didn’t use a condom and they hurt me. I was scared”– Ava

Stopping slavery

Unseen is working in three ways to stop slavery:

WE SUPPORT: survivors and vulnerable people through specialist services, helping them to recover safely and develop resilient, independent lives. Unseen operates safe-houses, a community outreach service and the UK Modern Slavery Helpline

WE EQUIP: healthcare workers, the police, front-line agencies, and businesses with training, advice and resources to better identify and support potential victims. Unseen trains over 1,500 professionals each year and facilitates Anti-Slavery Partnerships.

WE INFLUENCE: government and society to inspire change in legislation, policy and consumer choices. Unseen was fundamental in getting the 2015 Modern Slavery Act passed in the UK.

Unseen’s safe-houses

Unseen’s safe-houses are one of the only specialist services in the UK that support survivors of slavery with the highest-level needs. The people that call our safe-houses home have often suffered the worst horrors at the hands of their traffickers. Bought and sold; lies, beatings and rapes often define their imprisonment. Many survivors were trapped in slavery for many, many years.

After escaping, survivors come to Unseen traumatised, injured, without any possessions, homeless and without identification.


“Unseen has been like my family. If I could stay with them forever I would. I am proud of myself for getting out of a bad situation. I am happy. I am proud. I am going to school- it is the first time I have been to school in my life”– Anika, 24, who stayed at Unseen’s women’s safe-house

Helping residents to feel, and be, safe is critical in the safe-houses. They have CCTV, panic alarms, secret locations and other security features to protect survivors from their traffickers. This enables them to rest, recover and rebuild their lives; with 24/7 specialist staff on hand to provide:

– Therapeutic support

– A full medical review and healthcare

– Advice on their rights and entitlements

– Day trips to build confidence and positivity

– Support to plan for life after the safe-house

– Access to education and training

Unseen’s safe-houses support 70 survivors each year.

Modern slavery helpline

Unseen runs the UK Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre. The helpline provides a vital lifeline to victims 24/7 and provides guidance to those who may come across exploitation, including statutory agencies, businesses and the public.

If you need support, or are concerned about a possible case of modern slavery, call 08000 121 700

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