By Joshua Robinson –
A charity working in West Yorkshire has supported over 60 victims and survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking with support from the Mayor of West Yorkshire’s Safer Communities Fund.
Thanks to Mayor Tracy Brabin’s fund, which takes money seized from criminal activities and gives it to projects that are making their communities safer, Hope for Justice has reached 285 people and supported 63 victims and survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking.
The charity, which aims to eradicate modern slavery, has used its grant to help fund a multi-lingual Community Engagement Specialist, to purchase essential equipment, and enable outreach session delivery.
These sessions are delivered for the benefit of at-risk groups to raise awareness of the signs of modern slavery, as Hope for Justice works within communities to encourage reporting and bring attention to support services.
One of the people the charity has helped is Daniel* who moved with his family to the UK with the promise of work and a better life.
However, this was not the case. Instead, after they arrived, Daniel was denied access to his wages, and his family were threatened if he didn’t work.
After several months of living in fear, Daniel disclosed his situation to someone he trusted, and the police were alerted.
After an unsuccessful first application to the National Referral Mechanism, which is used to identify and refer potential victims of modern slavery so they can receive support, Daniel and his family were homeless, in freezing weather conditions.
A local charity contacted Hope for Justice, who secured emergency accommodation for the family that same night and began supporting them with necessities including food vouchers, phone access, and legal advice.
Daniel and his family were extremely vulnerable. They didn’t speak English and feared being deported. They were also scared for their safety after a close family member was killed in their home country, which they thought could be linked to Daniel having escaped and spoken to the police.
With help from the Hope for Justice team at the West Yorkshire Hub, Daniel and his family submitted a reconsideration request to the National Referral Mechanism.
The original decision was overturned, and a positive decision was made, meaning authorities agreed that modern slavery had occurred, and the family could receive support.
Hope for Justice’s team was able to advocate for Daniel and his family to access further support including legal aid for their asylum case.
Speaking about his experiences, Daniel said: “We are very grateful for Hope for Justice, and we are thankful they supported us in some of the hardest times of their lives and didn’t give up on us when we had nowhere to go.”
“Sometimes, people have a blindfold on their eyes and can’t see the truth of what is happening. But I want to encourage them to take their blindfold off, to end their fear and have the courage to seek out help.”
Kerry Brighouse, UK Programme Director for Hope for Justice, said: “The money from the Mayor’s Safer Communities Fund has been hugely beneficial for the work of Hope for Justice’s West Yorkshire Hub.”
“It has enabled us to increase our outreach, awareness and training sessions, strengthening community resilience to modern slavery and human trafficking, and preventing people falling victim to these terrible crimes.”
“We are thrilled with the support this funding has provided for our work in Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees, and we can confidently say that the impact has been life-changing for many people.”
Alison Lowe OBE, West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said: “Stories like Daniel’s are a poignant reminder that we must continue to fight against the heinous crimes of modern slavery and human trafficking.”
“We’re proud to be taking money from criminals to support projects that are transforming lives.”
“If you or someone you know is being exploited, please come forward and report it. Help is available.”
To find out more about Hope for Justice, please visit: https://hopeforjustice.org/news/tag/west-yorkshire-hub/
*Name changed to protect survivor’s identity.