Cristina*, who is in her early 30s, was trafficked to the UK from her home in Romania by an old acquaintance who pretended to be her friend. He promised her a decent job and a better way of life. But when she arrived, she was made to live in appalling accommodation and exploited for sex and criminal activities, including selling drugs.
When she refused, Cristina was drugged, physically and sexually abused and held inside a property for several months.
She was able to escape, but, with nowhere to turn, she ended up living on the streets. As a result of the trauma she had experienced, she was also experiencing mental health problems. In January 2021, she reached out to Hope for Justice and one of our outreach workers quickly identified her as a potential victim of human trafficking.
Cristina told us that she had already reported her exploitation to the police and contacted another organisation for help, but had not received the right support.
Unfortunately, when we looked into this, we found that that organisation had not spoken to a first responder in order to have Cristina referred into the National Referral Mechanism, the UK’s formal framework for identifying survivors of modern slavery. So, Cristina remained homeless, vulnerable to re-trafficking and re-traumatised by the process.
We were able to intervene and within two days, Cristina was living in safe accommodation. We also helped her be referred into the NRM, and soon after she received a positive ‘reasonable grounds’ decision, entitling her to access to support, including accommodation, financial support and counselling.
Cristina told us: “I am very happy in the safe house and am so thankful to have finally received the support I so needed. I am very grateful to Hope for Justice for the continuous support that I have received from you throughout the whole process.”
*Name changed to protect survivor’s identity