New report reveals true face of modern slavery in the capital

~ Experience of more than 600 victims of modern slavery captured for first time ~

  • Two in three victims of modern slavery in London were forced into prostitution (v. almost half nationally)
  • 81% of victims of modern slavery in London are women (v. national average 51%)
  • Charity issues urgent call for hundreds of volunteers to respond to crisis

*Download the full report here*

20 November 2017: A new report launched today reveals the true face of modern slavery in London. Underground Lives: The Reality of Modern Slavery in London’ draws on data from 624 victims of modern slavery. It is published by charity Hestia, which is the leading provider of support to victims of modern slavery in London. The report, which surveyed the experiences of everyone that Hestia worked with in 2016 revealed:

  • Two thirds of all victims were forced into prostitution (v. almost half nationally)
  • 81% of victims in London are female (v. national average 51%)
  • 91% of victims presented mental health symptoms ranging from suicidal thoughts, PTSD, anxiety and depression.
  • 54% of victims had thought about harming themselves.

London is a hub for modern slavery in the UK. Today, there are enough people who are currently victims of modern slavery to fill three Piccadilly line trains at any one time. And figures suggest the problem is growing, with Hestia already supporting more people in 2017 than it did in 2016.

Currently victims receive support for 45 days, but the scale of the trauma experienced by victims requires longer-term support to enable them to rebuild their lives. To meet the growing need, Hestia is launching an innovative volunteering project to provide long-term support to victims.

Speaking ahead of the report’s launch today in Parliament, Hestia’s CEO Patrick Ryan said:

“Modern Slavery is a cold, calculated and brutal business model in which people are deprived of liberty and then repeatedly raped, beaten and abused. It turns a profit on the back of other people’s misery. It destroys the lives of its victims and is a shame to all of us in a modern society. Last year, Hestia supported the majority of London victims, and this year we have already seen an increase of 30%. The only way to combat this issue is with support by the public.

We need Londoners to help victims rebuild their lives. We need specialists, such as teachers and doctors. But we also need people who can spare a few hours to befriend an individual and support them to feel part of a community again.”


A full advanced copy of the report is available to download here.

Case studies and interviews can be arranged.

Notes for editor:

About the report

Underground Lives: The Reality of Modern Slavery in London combines both field and desk research to gain a perspective on the scale and challenges faced by victims of modern slavery in London. It uses data from 624 clients who were in Hestia’s modern slavery services in 2016. Focus groups took place to help identify the main challenges that victims of modern slavery face when first identified as a potential victim but also when they exit from our service. Service user group consultations took place to gain a more in-depth understanding of the issues that had arisen from the questionnaires to explore key areas such as health and finance.

The launch of the report will be attended by key note speakers Sophie Linden, The Deputy Mayor of Policing and Crime and Vernon Coaker MP, co-chair of the Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery APPG and Tatiana Jardan, Director of Strategy for the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Download the full report here.

Hestia’s support for victims of modern slavery

  • Housing and support

Hestia is the leading provider in London supporting victims of modern slavery in London with 5 safehouses and pan-London outreach services in 32 London boroughs.  Our dedicated team of advocates offer emotional and practical support whilst their claims is processed through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). During this time advocates support their clients with any health assessments and signpost to any specialist services for counselling, sexual health and legal advice.

  • uTalk language app

Hestia is partnering with smartphone app uTalk to provide all service users with the ability to learn English to grown confidence. The company’s chairman Dick Howeson said: “We are very pleased to be to be able to help Hestia provide language learning to the people it’s helping. People who have been trafficked into London are already isolated and we think being able to speak even a few words in English – and for charity teams to be able to talk to them in their native languages – will help them to connect with people and feel more confident.”

  • Co-op’s Bright Future Scheme

Hestia is working with Co-op’s Bright Future Scheme to allow all service users to gain work experience in Co-op supermarkets across London. The placements will provide life changing opportunities for victims to regain their independence and learn new skills.

  • Barclay’s Training

Barclays is offering training sessions for victims of modern slavery to provide knowledge of digital safety and prevent any further risk of being exploited into trafficking again. Christopher Dean, Head of SME London at Barclays, said: “As a society our confidence in using digital technology to shop, pay our bills and connect with others has grown faster than our knowledge of how to do so safely. This has created a ‘digital safety gap’ which is being exploited by criminals. That is why we have launched our national campaign on digital safety through which I was pleased to introduce Hestia to our Digital Eagles team who have run sessions with many of their staff to help them understand cyber and digital security. Our Digital Eagles, in conjunction with Hestia staff, will run future sessions in London to support their vulnerable service users, many of which will have been the victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.

“In Britain today, there remains a big problem with human trafficking and modern slavery, with cases affecting every large town and city in the country. Barclays has staff that see customers every day so we are working with a range of partners to help these staff, and the public, recognise the signs and report their suspicions.”

About Hestia:

Hestia is a London charity, working together with adults and children in crisis to change their lives at the times when they most need support.

Across our broad range of services for people with mental health needs, people leaving prison and homelessness, we also help people find a permanent home, manage their finances, take care of their health, and access work, training or education, as well as providing emotional and practical support to help people succeed in their daily lives.

In 2016, we supported 624 adult victims of modern slavery. We are also the largest provider of refuge services for women and children who are homeless due to domestic abuse.


Twitter: @hestia1970