Hestia's Modern Slavery Statement – December 2023

As the leading provider of support to survivors of modern slavery in London and the Southeast, Hestia is committed to playing a significant role in tackling this cruel and calculated crime in all its guises.

 

About Hestia

Hestia is a registered charity and is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. Our purpose is to provide safety and support to people in crisis, helping them to recover and to look toward the future. We ensure that the voices of our service users are heard and their experiences and needs feed into policy and service development. The majority of our work is focused on London and the Southeast, working with survivors of modern slavery and domestic abuse, people with mental health difficulties, older people as well as care leavers and those leaving prison. We also work on a national basis around the prevention of domestic abuse and sexual violence through partnerships with public and private sector organisations and deploying online support.

Over 2022/3 Hestia supported 19,450 adults and children through a combination of accommodation and community-based programmes, including 62 units for victims of modern slavery.  Services were delivered by 650 permanent staff (with additional support by agency and bank workers) and supported by 600 volunteers. Hestia’s annual turnover increased over our financial year ending 31st March 2022/3 by £5.906 million to £48.243 million. More information can be found in our Annual Review.

 

Hestia’s role in improving the situation for survivors in the UK

An estimated 122,000 people in the UK are trapped in modern slavery today. Having started in 2011, Hestia’s modern slavery service aims to give people back their dignity and to advocate for systemic change to end slavery. 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.

To date we have provided 6,000 survivors with support via our safe houses and an outreach service in London and Kent – including more than 2,800 survivors over the past year. We also support and advocate for dependants who are survivors of modern slavery, though their need is not yet officially recognised. Over 2022/3 we supported 850 dependent children.

Once freed, survivors of modern slavery still have a long and often complicated journey to recovery. Therefore, having previously created Hestia’s award-winning Phoenix Project, our Modern Slavery Innovation Team launched its work on three added value projects: child and family support, community integration and volunteering, and employability. Since 2020, we have provided digital inclusion through smart phones and tablets for all our service users. We now also provide digital options to stay in touch with advocates and to engage in integration activities.

Home to our flagship Art is Freedom exhibition and Underground Lives research, the Team focuses on raising awareness about modern slavery, empowering the survivor voice in doing so. We also deliver Modern Slavery Awareness training to external companies, having trained 150+ people over the past year, and have recruited a Modern Slavery Trainer to help grow reach.

Art is Freedom is an annual exhibition engaging Hestia’s networks and a broad public audience in understanding and reporting modern slavery. Our survivors/artists participate in an art and photography programme, supported by Hestia’s partners, to help them find their voice and an identity away from their victim and survivor tag. In 2023, our sixth exhibition was co-curated by survivors and Sky Arts, reaching an estimated 6 million people.

 

Policy and research

As the leading organisation in London working with victims of modern slavery, we are committed to bringing survivors’ voices and our own experience into improving policy and practice. 

The passing of the Illegal Migration Act in 2023 and its yet to be announced implementation plans is likely to bring huge, previously unimagined change to the sector. It means that victims of modern slavery and human trafficking who have entered the UK irregularly through no fault of their own – in many cases forced against their will, coerced or deceived – will in future be detained or deported.

Hestia, in partnership with our public affairs agency and pro bono legal counsel, fought hard for amendments to the Bill to protect all potential victims of trafficking. Tabled by Lord Hunt in the House of Lords Committee stage, these initially received overwhelming support across all benches. Despite this, the ping-pong process between the Lords and House of Commons ended in concession. 

Hestia submitted evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the trafficking of human beings in March 2023, and supported four survivors to give verbal evidence to the Committee in July 2023. We increased opportunities for survivor voice to influence and shape policy via the creation of our Empowered Voice forum, a collective of survivors who meet monthly and collaborate with staff on service delivery and improvements. This collective of survivors met with a delegation of the Home Office Modern Slavery Unit, sharing insights into what they believe is primordial to victim rehabilitation, and co-designed the communication strategy to all our service users about the Illegal Migration Act. 

Our Underground Lives series explores the experiences of hundreds survivors, focussing on issues such as pregnancy and modern slavery; the needs of male victims; criminal exploitation and dependent children; and employment opportunities for survivors whilst in the NRM. Our latest research, published in October 2023, examines the experience of Albanian survivors of modern slavery.

These reports help to inform the public, decision makers, service providers, and sector experts, as well as the development of Hestia’s programme of support for survivors which we are currently actively fundraising for.

Hestia is a Police Super Complaint Designated Body and in 2019 submitted the first ever Police Super Complaint focused on modern slavery. The evidence submitted demonstrated that the police response fell short of the standards required to safeguard and support victims of this crime and that poor quality, inconsistent support deters victims of modern slavery from engaging with the police and supporting investigations. We continue to advocate for better victim support and protection in order to ensure the prosecution of criminals who traffic and exploit.

 

Training

Hestia has developed a bespoke training package that is offered to organisations interested in understanding more about modern slavery in the UK today. Due to the success of this programme, we are excited to have invested in a training manager whose role will be to oversee, expand and deliver our training offer.

 

Achievements since our last Modern Slavery Statement

Expansion of training

We have continued with the focus on mandatory modern slavery training for all staff across Hestia. 96% of our current employees have attended.

Volunteers are currently provided with access to e-learning where they can access modern slavery training. Our volunteering team have implemented a mandatory training pack for volunteers via an induction process which is provided to all volunteers. Live online workshops are delivered to raise awareness twice year.  

Trustees took part in modern slavery awareness training.

 

Centralised Supply Chains

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

We review all new major suppliers for risk levels and work with them accordingly to make every effort to ensure those risks of modern slavery in their supply chains are minimised. Where possible we undertake this work via high-level conversations though this is challenging in terms of both resource and supplier receptiveness to a subject outside their norm.

 

Devolved Supply Chains 

Our devolved supply chains are the locus of the highest risk. During the last year we negotiated new contracts for night security guards, mobile phones, sanitary waste disposal, and translation and interpretation services. Through raising concerns both in documentation and conversations with all suppliers participating in these tenders, we have assurances that they undertake due diligence relating to modern slavery in their own supply chains. 

We are now commencing a radical procurement project, which has two main workstreams. First, a new, tougher approval process which will interrogate suppliers’ modern slavery policies and supply chains. Second, we are pursuing increased centralisation of procurement via either exclusive contracts or frameworks. 

Currently less than 25% of our suppliers have been through the existing process; from April 2024, we are aiming for the processing of invoices for payment to only occur where a supplier has successfully applied for approval.  

Through centralising procurement more generally, we will be able to have focused discussions with major or high-risk suppliers around risks relating to modern slavery. We also plan to provide suppliers with information that brings the risks and impact of modern slavery to life, and especially the work which Hestia is doing in this field.

 

Key risk areas identified

Based on our work to-date the main areas of risk we have identified are:

Implementation of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 and the Nationality and Borders Act 2022: We are closely monitoring the impact of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 on our services and (at the time of writing) are awaiting secondary legislation to understand how the provisions of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 will be operationalised, and what impact this will have on survivors. 

We are deeply concerned by the fact victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, arriving irregularly in the UK through no fault of their own, will be disqualified from any support. This will increase their vulnerability as they will not come forward to receive support. We are concerned these vulnerabilities will be exploited by others, leading to re-trafficking, and prosecution rates will decrease even further due to the lack of victim evidence.

 

Supply Chains: While we are pleased with increased engagement by our central suppliers, many of them remain at the beginning of their journey to understand and tackle modern slavery. Our main concern remains the risks in our devolved supply chains where we do not have such strong organisational oversight.

 

Vulnerability of clients linked to the cost of living crisis: We are increasingly concerned about the financial vulnerability of many of the clients we work with. This creates a further opportunity for exploitation by criminal gangs and other perpetrators of modern slavery. In particular, there is potential for individuals to be targeted for labour exploitation and cuckooing.

 

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, they are working in a time of acute uncertainty. Therefore our focus over the coming year will be on understanding the implications and impact of the new legislation and preparing ourselves and our service users by adapting our service delivery model accordingly. To this end, we have hired a change manager to support what we envisage being an 18-month long transformation process.

Key priorities include: 

Providing comprehensive support to our survivors as early as possible: The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 reduces the time available for support, increases the threshold for people to access support, and introduces provisions to disqualify people from support. We will closely monitor the impact on the number of people referred to services and will deliver support to them as swiftly as possible.

 

Developing a Community Integration service:  It is likely that survivors will be entitled to lower levels of support and will exit services faster than previously. Therefore, we will offer a community integration service which includes a befriending volunteer programme, aimed at increasing survivor’s self-confidence and resilience and supporting their independence.

 

Ongoing development of our training offer and growth in reach: We will continuously review and adapt our training offer to include the most recent policy and legislative changes. Led by our new training manager, we will ensure this encompasses the impact of the Illegal Migration Act on not only our modern slavery service users, but also those impacted in our mental health, domestic abuse and wider services.

 

Advocating for and championing the needs of modern slavery victims in the UK with a view to informing the implementation of the new legislation as well as service and policy development (including the new Adult Victim Policy). This will include: engagement with policy makers across all parties in both Houses as well as the new Independent Anti- Slavery Commissioner; working with the Home Office Modern Slavery Unit and attending their Modern Slavery Engagement Forum on Adult Victim Policy quarterly; and joining a Detention Taskforce to ensure we are kept abreast of changes and trends observed in detention centres.

 

Continuing to create emotional connection: We know that motivation to tackle modern slavery is deeply linked to people’s emotional commitment to the issue. We will continue to share survivors’ stories with the public and across our internal and external networks to bring their voices and experience to the fore. This will include continuing with our Art is Freedom event and Underground Lives publications.

 

Contract approved by Hestia’s Board of Trustees on 5th December 2023

Contract signed by Director of Fundraising and Communications

Read our 2022 Modern Slavery Statement 2022.