Press Release


EMBARGOED: 00:00 18

Half of all male victims of modern slavery have slept rough

~ New report highlights huge challenges faced by males victims of modern slavery ~

Read the report: Underground Lives: Male Victims of Modern Slavery

18th October 2018: A new report today highlights the shocking experiences of male victims of modern slavery in London. The report is published by charity Hestia, the largest provider of frontline support to victims of modern slavery. Underground Lives: Male Victims of Modern Slavery sheds light on the experiences men endure whilst seeking support for their trauma. The report uses data from 218 men supported by Hestia who have been forced to work in farms, construction sites or cannabis farms, sold for sex or used as slaves in people’s homes.

The report found that 54% of male victims had slept rough, exposing them to a greater risk to being targeted again by criminal gangs in a cycle of slavery and abuse. It calls for more to be done to improve the availability of housing for victims of modern slavery and to protect already homeless people from exploitation.

47% of men had no living family, adding to their isolation and vulnerability. 92% of men showed signs of suffering from mental health issues, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. While some support services do exist, shame and embarrassment prevent men from asking for help. The report calls for more accessible programmes to support wellbeing and integration so that men can access the support they need.

Hestia’s CEO Patrick Ryan said: 

“Modern slavery is a brutal and violent crime. The experiences of the men we are supporting are horrifying. Psychological manipulation, violence and rape were regularly used by their abusers to break their spirits and stop their escape.

It is only recently that the true magnitude of the exploitation of men for modern slavery has begun to emerge. However, the availability of support has yet to catch up with the needs of these highly traumatised men.

We need the public, private and third sector to better understand these needs and put in place the right support so they can recover from their trauma go on and live the lives they dream of.”


Notes for editors

About the report

The following methods were used:

Analysis of Hestia’s initial assessment forms for existing male clients. Interviews with 34 male clients supported by the modern slavery response team. Interviews with 8 key professionals from the modern slavery sector including the Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Anti-Slavery Unit, two solicitors providing legal aid for victims of modern slavery, the Director of Legal Policy at Hope for Justice, the Head of Counter-Trafficking at the Helen Bamber Foundation, the Modern Slavery Children and Young Men’s Practitioner at Children’s Society, a Coordinator working for a London homelessness charity and the Project Leader of the Human Trafficking Foundation; Consultation with Modern Slavery Response Team (MSRT) Advocates and Team Leaders. Hogan Lovells has contributed the legal research.

  • 54% of men had slept rough after escaping their traffickers.
  • 50% had spent time in prison or in detention before being identified as a potential victim of modern slavery. Where detail was provided, the reason for spending time in prison/detention was related to the victims’ exploitation.
  • 47% of men who were supported by Hestia had no living family.
  • 92% of men supported by Hestia displayed a range of mental health issues yet less than half of those had accessed mental health support.

Hestia’s support for victims of modern slavery

Hestia’s modern slavery response team started in 2011 and since then Hestia has supported over 2,500 victims of modern slavery and their dependents. Currently, Hestia provides 5 safe houses in London and Kent, as well as a pan-London outreach service working in every London borough. In 2018, we expect that number to reach 1,200 adults and 500 dependent children. We work closely with The Salvation Army to deliver support to victims who have been referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and who have chosen to be supported by the Home Office funded Victim Care Contract. In 2018, Hestia also launched the Phoenix Project in partnership with the British Red Cross to provide volunteer-led, long-term support to victims of modern slavery.

About Hestia 

At Hestia, we support adults and children across London in times of crisis. Last year we worked with more than 9,000 people, including victims of modern slavery, women and children who have experienced domestic abuse, young care leavers and older people. Hestia is the leading organisation in London supporting victims of modern slavery. In 2017, Hestia supported the majority of victims in London - 870 through 5 safe houses and pan-London outreach services in 32 boroughs - an increase of 30% from the previous year. From giving someone a home to helping them to get the right mental health support, we support and enable people at the moment of crisis.


Twitter: @Hestia1970