Hestia opens new safe house for victims of modern slavery amid coronavirus crisis

Today a new safe house will open for female victims of modern slavery in London. The safe house, which is based in the London Borough of Brent, is run by charity Hestia, the largest provider of modern slavery support in the capital. It will be delivered in partnership with Network Homes, one of London’s largest housing associations.

The opening of the safe house comes amid a critical need for accommodation for victims of modern slavery during the coronavirus crisis. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the government has paused the move on process for victims of modern slavery living in safe house accommodation until July. This new accommodation is needed to ensure that there is plenty of capacity to provide support in safe houses into the future.

In 2019, the number of potential victims of modern slavery referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), increased by 52 per cent compared to the previous year. Between 23 March and 14 May this year Hestia has seen a 41 per cent increase in the number of referrals into their Modern Slavery Response service against the same period last year. The increasing recognition of modern slavery underlines a growing need for accommodation for victims of this crime.

Hestia’s new safe house contains six units of accommodation for women, provided by Network Homes, which will be a safe space for them to begin to recover. Network Homes will also be providing 24-hour security and a dedicated office for support staff, along with an extensive cleaning service. Women who access the accommodation will also be supported by Hestia with their emotional and practical needs.

Last year, Hestia supported 1,337 adults and 508 dependent children through its Modern Slavery Response service, including through safe house accommodation and pan-London outreach support.

Patrick Ryan, CEO at Hestia, said:

“A home and place of safety is always important. The current crisis makes this even more true. I am delighted that Hestia with our partners is able, in the middle of the pandemic, to provide new homes for victims of modern slavery so they can recover from the trauma and brutality of their experience.”

Helen Evans, Chief Executive of Network Homes, said:

“We’re really pleased to be working with Hestia in order to provide safe and secure accommodation at what is a very challenging time. This is a really good example of partnership working to protect very vulnerable members of our society and delivering on our social purpose.”

Kathy Betteridge, Director of Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army, said:

“The Salvation Army is working closely with our partners and the Home Office and we have quickly adapted our existing operations so that victims of modern slavery continue to have the best care possible, to keep them safe and help them continue their recovery despite the challenges we face in the light of coronavirus. We are already making available new safe houses on a regular basis. We have plans to ensure we continue to have the capacity to accommodate new victims needing support.  This will contribute to the additional accommodation now required following the government’s decision to allow clients to remain in our network of safe houses during the pandemic even when they might have been planning to move on under normal circumstances.”

-ENDS-

For press and media related queries[email protected]

Notes to Editor

About Hestia

For 50 years, Hestia has provided support and hope every step of the way of recovery. Today, millions of people are experiencing domestic abuse, modern slavery and challenges with their mental health. Hestia believes no-one should suffer alone. Together, we can make sure people find a life beyond crisis.

At Hestia we support adults and children in times of crisis. We deliver services across London and the surrounding regions, as well as campaign and advocate nationally on the issues that affect the people we work with. Last year we supported 10,766 men, women and children. This includes victims of modern slavery, women and children who have experienced domestic abuse, young care leavers and older people. From giving someone a home, to helping them to get the right mental health support, we support people at the moment of crisis and enable them to build a life beyond a crisis. We are supported by nearly 600 volunteers across London who provide specialist skills such as art therapy, yoga, IT, gardening and cooking, as well as befriending and fundraising.

About Network Homes

Network Homes is one of England’s leading housing associations, owning and managing over 20,000 homes, housing over 38,000 people across London, Hertfordshire and the South East. We are a strategic development partner of the Greater London Authority and aim to deliver 5,000 new homes by 2023, plus reach at least 90% customer satisfaction. We believe good homes make everything possible.

Housing associations were set up to support people in housing need and this remains at the heart of everything we do today. We’re an independent, charitable organisation and all the money we make is reinvested in building more affordable homes and delivering services for our residents.

Network Homes supports the aim of the G15’s Offer to London – a series of pledges from London’s largest housing associations to the capital’s 32 boroughs. The Offer sets out how housing associations and councils can collaborate to deliver more genuinely affordable homes for Londoners, alleviate homelessness, and invest in sustainable communities. The G15 group of housing associations is the largest provider of affordable homes in the capital. You can find out more about our Offer to London here.

Helen Evans became the first female Chair of the G15 in July 2019. The G15 is the collective voice of some of the leading organisations in the housing sector. Its members house one in

ten Londoners and are the largest providers of affordable homes in the capital, building a quarter of all London’s new homes, and owning or managing more than 600,000 homes