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Modern slavery

Modern slavery and labour abuse have become a serious issues in the UK’s social care sector, especially since the Health & Care Worker Visa came into effect in August 2020. The media is now drawing attention to the issue, with recent coverage from the BBC, The Guardian and Panorama. Here is a guide to spotting the signs of Modern Slavery.

UK Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline

The UK Modern Slavery Helpline is a victim-centred service run by the charity, Unseen. They are not affiliated with the government or the police. You can call them on 08000 121 700 or report concerns online.

If you contact the helpline, advisors will treat everything you say confidentially and will not pass information to anybody (including law enforcement) without your permission, except if there is a threat to life or a child involved. They have interpreters in over 200 languages.

Advisors at the helpline will signpost you in the direction of the most suitable support, such as that listed at the end of this page. With your permission, an advisor can help refer your case to relevant investigative agencies such as the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority or the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for modern slavery. “Once in the NRM, potential victims can access services based on their individual needs such as relevant legal advice, safe and secure accommodation, access to a support worker, financial support and medical care and counselling”.

You can call the helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so if you need to, you can ring them in the middle of the night and still receive exactly the same service. If the helpline ever needs to call you, their call will come from a private number. If you are a potential victim, the helpline recommends that you delete any record of your contact with the helpline from your phone, for your safety.

The helpline will provide you with a unique case number which you can use to identify yourself in any future contact with the helpline. This means that if you need to put down the phone suddenly, you can always back pick the conversation back up by providing your case number. If you have other colleagues in the same position as you, you would be welcome to share the same case number so that your situations can be examined together.

 

Homecare Workers’ Group has its own open case with the Modern Slavery Helpline and the unique case number for this is 53048. If you wish, you can provide this case number when contacting the helpline. This means is that the helpline will be able keep track of all reports which have come through to them via Homecare Workers’ Group.

Further guidance

  • If you are working in health and social care in the UK via the Health and Care Worker Visa and wish to change employer:

    • Here is government advice about how to change your employer

    • Here is a database which has recently been complied, making it easier to identify registered sponsors in your area

    • Here is an independent organisation called SponsorSwitch which helps sponsored care workers find a new employer

  • Advice and support about your employee rights at work and problems getting paid is available from Citizens Advice

  • Free and independent advice on how to protect rights as a non-permanent worker is available from Jobs Aware

  • If you are based overseas but are considering working in health and social care in the UK, this guidance has important information about the following:

    • How to avoid scams and what to look out for

    • Agency fees

    • Contract changes

    • Working hours

    • How to check if a job is real

    • Losing a job

    • If a sponsor threatens you with deportation

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