Global Citizen marched from the Home Office to 10 Downing Street with a coalition of organisations on March 14 to demand more support for victims of modern slavery.
Eight slavery survivors joined the walk with Freedom United, Anti-Slavery, Free for Good, Christian Action & Research (CARE), the Co-Op, and the Survivor Alliance.
More than 60,000 actions were taken by the public — including 20,000 taken by Global Citizens — calling on the UK government to increase the period of guaranteed support for survivors.
Last year, the government extended the support offered to survivors of modern slavery from 45 to 90 days. But the coalition believes that this is still not enough.
Without sufficient support through accommodation, health care, counselling, and legal advice over a more substantial period of time, survivors are at risk of becoming homeless and vulnerable to re-trafficking.
That’s why the coalition is urgently calling on Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Prime Minister Theresa May to back the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, which would increase this support period to 12 months and give survivors the time they need to rebuild their lives.
Over the past year we’ve campaigned hard for the UK to #ProtectNotNeglect survivors of modern slavery.— Global Citizen UK (@GlblCtznUK) March 14, 2019
Today we march from the @UKHomeOffice to @10DowningStreet to hand over your petition signatures!
One survivor, who wished to remain anonymous, told Global Citizen that victims “are treated in a very hostile way” by the government, and wanted to remind them that “we are human beings like any other” who feel like they’ve been “put in a cage.”
“I’m marching today because I’m a victim of trafficking,” she said. “I want our voice to be heard by the government, by the Home Office, and by the home secretary especially.”
It’s estimated there are around 10,000 to 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK alone, many of whom are embroiled in labour or sexual exploitation, or domestic servitude.
There are at least 40 million victims of modern slavery worldwide — the most there’s ever been in human history — and 25 million victims of forced labour.
Freedom United — the largest modern anti-slavery community in the world — has campaigned to end human trafficking and secure support for victims since 2012, when they were founded under the name Walk Free. Since then the organisation has improved the lives of over 200 million people.
Joanna Ewart-James, executive director of Freedom United, stated she would “love to see Sajid Javid and Theresa May make the Victims Support Bill a priority in the houses of parliament” — and told Global Citizen she had a message for everybody who took action.
“We’re here doing something with your signature,” she said. “It’s not just something that we’ve asked you to do to sit on the website — we’re actually making it happen and making sure it gets in front of the people who matter.”
Joanna Ewart-James from Freedom United