Eliza is a Team Manager for Hestia's Modern Slavery Response service, supporting survivors of modern slavery across London. She reflects on how lockdown is impacting the people she works with.

Lockdown is a struggle for everyone, but for survivors of modern slavery who have already experienced profound trauma, they face renewed risks. For them, being told to stay inside and worrying about how to access food can be a trigger to their past.

Many of the survivors we work with rely on our staff as one of their main points of contact. But over the last few weeks we have had to shift from face to face meetings to delivering all support over the phone, leaving many people feeling even more isolated.

So many of the survivors of modern slavery that we work with live off a very limited weekly subsistence allowance and are used to relying on very strict budgeting, donations and food banks to cover their most basic needs. With food banks depleted and bargain items disappearing off supermarket shelves, every day me and my team are hearing from people who are struggling to get the essentials such as nappies, milk and food.

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Two women we support are due to give birth imminently, and one woman gave birth last week to a healthy baby girl. All three women are isolating, meaning accessing donations is a challenge and a priority. Women are struggling to access formula for babies, and we are reaching out to different food banks to try and access this expensive essential.

As much of the practical work that my team does is put on hold, my team are focused on providing intensive emotional support during this difficult time. Every day my team and I are faced with new challenges and we are working hard to support survivors whose mental health is being impacted by the lockdown. Hestia will continue to provide structured support to everyone to ensure they can continue to focus on their goals during this unsettling time.

A caseworker tells me of their experience speaking with a survivor named Tom* for an hour on the phone each day. He is desperately lonely in his shared accommodation, and due to underlying health risks isn’t able to leave the house.

Many schools have also moved their classes online. For survivor’s with access to the internet and a smart phone this is a great way to continue studying and keep busy at home. Unfortunately, many survivors do not have the equipment to do this.

My team is working hard to find activities for everyone in the service including their children. We have children of all ages and there is a big demand there is a big demand for toys and educational tools to support parents who are struggling to teach their children at home.

We know this crisis is not over yet. Please help us by donating so we can get food, nappies, cleaning products and entertainment to the adults and children we support.

Help us to provide essential care packaged including essentials like food, cleaning products and entertainment to women and children in our refuges.

 Donate to support our emergency coronavirus appeal

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