Hestia's Modern Slavery Statement – December 2020

As the leading provider of support to survivors of modern slavery in London and the South East, Hestia is committed to playing a significant role in tackling modern slavery in all its guises. Although we are not required to publish a Modern Slavery Statement by law as our turnover is less than £36m, we believe this is a crucial way for us to be transparent about our actions and be part of a wider movement of change.

About Hestia

Hestia is a registered charity and is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. Our purpose is to deliver life changing services to people in crisis. The majority of our work is focused in London and the South East, working with people affected by issues including domestic abuse, modern slavery and mental health. We also work on a national basis around the prevention of domestic abuse, both through the use of technology and working in partnership with businesses.

In the year 2019/20 Hestia supported 15,238 adults and children through a combination of accommodation and community-based programmes. This was delivered by 600 permanent staff (with additional support by agency and bank workers) and supported by nearly 950 volunteers, with an organisation turnover of £31.7 million. Hestia manages 34 safe houses and refuges, 15 accommodation-based services as well as 2 day centres. We also provide outreach and other support services to children and adults.

We manage some supply chains centrally, such as agency workers, utilities, office supplies, IT support and merchandise. Our safe houses, refuges, supported accommodation and day centres are responsible for local supply chains, including property maintenance, cleaning services, security workers, food and equipment. 

What we do to improve the situation for survivors in the UK

We are committed to ensuring that our operations and supply chains do not compound risks of modern slavery. We aim to use our knowledge and understanding of modern slavery to inform our own practices and ensure that all our staff know what to look for, how to ensure proper due diligence of our supply chains, how to respond in the event of finding an incident and how to ensure that our purchasing practices do not make exploitation more likely.

  • Supporting survivors

Hestia’s modern slavery service started in 2011 and we have supported over 4,331 survivors since then. We provide safe houses in London and Kent, as well as a pan-London outreach service working in every London borough.

In 2019/20 we supported 2,103 adults and 1,205 dependent children. This represents the majority of adult victims of modern slavery in London who have entered the National Referral Mechanism for that period.

We work closely with The Salvation Army to deliver support to victims who have been referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). The NRM is a national framework that ensures victims of modern slavery are identified and receive appropriate support.

In 2018 Hestia launched the Phoenix Project to provide volunteer-led long-term support to victims of modern slavery. Since its launch we have supported 95 survivors and engaged 102 volunteers in language education, health and wellbeing, housing advice, legal advice and therapeutic support.

We run an annual art exhibition #ArtIsFreedom, which engages survivors of modern slavery in art and photography and aims to educate the public on modern slavery in the UK.

During Covid-19 we provided extra support to victims in our service through the provision of smart phones and tablets as well as supermarket vouchers for those unable to access foodbanks.

  • Policy and research

As the main organisation in London working with victims of modern slavery we are committed to using what we learn to improve policy and practice. Our Underground Lives series of research reports aims to provide a platform for the voices of our service users to be heard. So far we have looked at topics including pregnancy, the needs of male victims and criminal exploitation. These have received widespread media coverage. They have also been considered as part of the Government’s review of the Modern Slavery Act and of the National Referral Mechanism.

Based on the findings we have also designed new programmes of support which we are currently actively fundraising for. We are also a Police Super Complaint Designated Body and submitted the first ever Police Super Complaint focused on modern slavery.

  • Training

Hestia has developed a bespoke training package that is offered to organisations interested in understanding more about modern slavery in the UK today. We secured funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to offer this training for free to frontline local authority and NGO staff. We have now run 43 sessions and delivered this training to 861 people. In partnership with Crisis we have also been delivering a programme of work around female victims of modern slavery and homelessness. As part of this we have run 34 sessions, delivering training to 335 people, mainly in the homelessness sector.

We also provide in-house training to members of our Modern Slavery Response Team and to Phoenix Project Volunteers to enable them to understand and identify modern slavery and to work sensitively with survivors in a way that decreases the likelihood that they will be re-trafficked. 

What we have done since our last Modern Slavery Statement

  1. Designated champions: We have formed a cross-departmental working group on modern slavery, which includes three members of the senior leadership team, to champion our response to modern slavery across the organisation. This group has overseen the following tasks –
  2. Polices & procedures: We have identified that a piece of work is needed to update a wide range of policies and procedure to ensure they explicitly meet our modern slavery commitments. We believe that by explicitly referencing modern slavery we will be able to further build awareness and understanding within our wider organisation.
  3. Fundraising merchandise: We have completed a review of all suppliers and identified that our risk is this area is relatively low as we only buy a small amount of merchandise from a very small number of suppliers. However all of them are small businesses who do not have modern slavery statements so there is an opportunity for us to positively influence them.
  4. Centralised supply chain: In our last statement we said that:
  • “All contractors are asked to supply proof of registration, insurance, and competency where necessary (including records of staff with qualifications).  All information provided is subject to checks where external evidence is available such as through external regulatory agencies.
  • Contractor and Supplier websites are now monitored to assess if they provide a robust Modern Slavery Statement. If not, enquiries are made and information on their procurement process is sought.  In the case of unsatisfactory assessments, the contractors or suppliers can be precluded from working with Hestia.  
  • Contractor performance is monitored by our in-house team via on-site visits and the team are required to report any workforce concerns they have to Hestia senior management for follow up as appropriate.”  

We have undertaken an extensive review of our centralised suppliers. Our aim has been to identify risk and build awareness and commitment to act among all our partners. As many of our partners do not meet the threshold for producing Modern Slavery Statements, we have sought to move from a regulatory approach to a conversational approach. To achieve this we have undertaken a risk analysis of all of our suppliers and given them a rating of 1-3 based on their demonstrated level of commitment to tackling modern slavery. Our aim is to ensure all our partners are either scoring a 3 or showing a clear pathway towards it.

  1. Recruitment agencies: In our last statement we said that:
  • “The provision of agency staff through an agreed and vetted agency provider list managed by a master vendor who engages in a quarterly data audit including right to work, Adult and Child DBS and references over a three year period.”

We have prioritised discussions with our recruitment agencies with a focus on: what processes they have in place to ensure they comply with their own Modern Slavery Statement; and what practical steps are taken during their annual audit process with agencies they subcontract to. We have been encouraged by the extensive work that is already underway, including staff champions, extensive staff training, active auditing of payslips and other indicators and partnership working with a leading charity in this field.

  1. Devolved supply chains: In our last statement we said that:
  • “We provide central guidance to all managers regarding the procurement of goods and services.  We maintain an Approved Maintenance Contractors list – and anyone on this list will have gone through the assessment procedures outlined above.
  • We encourage staff to contact the Contract Services team when using contractors and suppliers for the first time, if there are any concerns, or for any recommendations for suitable contractors or suppliers sought.”  

Over the last year we have prioritised developing a framework for our centralised suppliers. However, we have completed a piece of work to collate a list of all localised suppliers, identified through our finance system.

Key risk areas identified - Due diligence in supply chain

Based on our work to-date we have identified that our main areas of risk are related to our supply chains:

  1. Centralised supply chain

Through our review of our supply chains we have identified that the areas of greater risk are where the needs of our service delivery push us towards purchasing based on lowest price and convenience. For example, in ensuring all staff had the equipment to work from home during lockdown, we have seen a surge in the use of online retailers where we have not been able to consider their own supply change management. We have also identified potential risk in our supply chains where we work through brokers.

  1. Devolved supply chains 

In our review we have identified 1,300 suppliers in our devolved supply chains. The combination of non-centralised oversight and the small scale of many of these suppliers means that it is extremely challenging to identify and manage risk and influence behaviour change.

What we will do next

While Hestia’s Modern Slavery Response Team plays a huge role in supporting survivors of modern slavery and preventing re-trafficking, we recognise that there is more we can do across the whole organisation to ensure that more staff and service users know how to spot the signs and risks of modern slavery, feel confident in responding proactively and are not unconsciously contributing to modern slavery through our supply chain practices. To achieve this we are committed by December 2021 to the following actions:

  1. Senior leadership:
    • We will have action against our modern slavery statement as a quarterly standing agenda item in our Performance Directorate meetings.
  1. Staff training:
    • We have identified that frontline staff in our organisation have the potential to be coming into contact with victims of modern slavery. Therefore we are now rolling out mandatory training on modern slavery to all staff.
  1. Centralised supply chain:
    • To support our suppliers in building their awareness and commitment, we will identify appropriate toolkits to share with them on a proactive basis.
    • We will continue to have regular conversations with our suppliers.
    • Where suppliers are consistently failing to move in our assessment towards taking action to end modern slavery, we will seek alternative providers.
    • We will focus our attention on areas where our purchasing preferences are heavily weighted by low price and convenience and where we are working through brokers to secure products with known risks around modern slavery.
  1. Devolved supply chains: 
    • We will undertake a further assessment into the risks within our supply chains and develop an action plan.
    • We will ensure the new staff training to be rolled out encourages staff to consider the risk of modern slavery in any local suppliers they use.
  1. Policies and procedures:
    • We will develop a Modern Slavery Impact Assessment (MSIA) to sit alongside our Equality Impact Assessment.
    • We will use the MSIA to ensure the implications on modern slavery are addressed whenever Policies & Procedures are reviewed as part of the annual review cycle.

Terrie Alafat CBE, Chair of Trustees