We’re delighted to announce that the West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network has been awarded oer £320,000 of National Lottery funding by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.
The West Midlands has the highest numbers of modern slavery victims in the UK outside of London, with over 400 victims identified in the region so far this year. The number of people being found and rescued from modern slavery and human trafficking is increasing year on year.
Centuries after slavery was officially abolished, thousands of people are still being exploited and sold as slaves across the UK. They can be forced to work in the sex trade, used as domestic slaves, exploited for labour or criminal activity, or have their organs removed to be sold. At least one of these things happens in the West Midlands every day.
Thanks to the National Lottery funding, we will be able to set up a safe house in the West Midlands to provide a place of safety, initially for male victims, after they are first identified as having been victims of modern slavery. It will offer refuge for up to four people at a time, where they can rest and recover in their own private room with access to home comforts such as clean clothes, toiletries and food in a safe and secure environment.
At the safe house, they will decide whether to enter the National Referral Mechanism – a framework for identifying victims and ensuring they receive the appropriate support. The West Midlands Anti Slavery Network will work with its partners to help victims transition into this system, or to act as navigators to alternative long term care and support.
The funding will also be used to set up a resource centre, where workshops will help people to learn new skills such as growing their own food, cooking healthy meals, managing their money and paying bills, whilst boosting their confidence and self-esteem. There will also be the opportunity for former victims to mentor others who have recently experienced modern slavery, as well as be involved in the design of support on offer.
Click here to read more about the funding in the official press release.