A woman who was trafficked to the UK under the false promise of an opportunity to study is now free from exploitation and passionate about her future, with support from Hope for Justice and partner charities.
“I am not just focusing on the negative things in my life,” the survivor told us. “I am focusing on what I can achieve.”
Samara*, who is in her mid-30s, has always dreamed of studying and going to university. She is now pursuing her dream.
Samara is studying for her Maths and English GCSEs and is doing a Level 2 Diploma in Social Studies. She is involved in an employability programme and is part of a research advisory board, sharing her experiences to improve the support provided by the National Referral Mechanism – the UK government’s framework for identifying victims of modern slavery. She hopes to do a Level 3 Diploma, with the view to go to university to study criminology.
She said: “Choosing to focus my attentions on my studies, the employability programme and my involvement in the research advisory board has had a big impact on my wellbeing. I am not just focusing on the negative things in my life; I am focusing on what I can achieve. I am enjoying these things a lot because that it what gets me to think positively because I have something to do every day.”
Samara first arrived in the UK in late 2017. She left her role as primary carer for her relatives when a family connection offered her a place to live and study in the UK.
However, she was trafficked for forced prostitution and made to service a number of men for very little pay. She also had to cook, clean and meet the demands of her perpetrator, trapped in an exploitative situation of domestic servitude.
This continued for about 10 months until Samara asked one of her clients to help her escape. The man helped her exit exploitation and provided her with short-term accommodation.
Samara sought help from a Citizens Advice Bureau, a JobCentre and later Survivor Alliance – a charity run by survivors for survivors – who in turn referred her to a caseworker at Hope for Justice.
Our team helped Samara to engage in an employability programme. We also assisted her with the application process to access a college course.
One of our Independent Modern Slavery Advocates (IMSAs) said: “I can honestly see a huge difference in this survivor’s life. She has experienced trauma and fear but she has come a long way, especially in terms of her mental health. She is now able to cope and process circumstances in a healthy way. She is able to reach out for help and let me know when she feels overwhelmed. We are able to talk in a way that is much more open.”
We have also supported Samara to open a bank account, accompanied her to legal appointments, and helped her to engage in counselling and mental health support.
We are working with Samara to secure a successful asylum decision and to receive a positive conclusive grounds decision.
Our IMSA said: “The survivor is really enjoying her studies and her extra-curricular activities have made a huge improvement to her mental health. She had an appointment around her immigration matters recently and I offered her some counselling sessions afterwards – something we usually do to provide that extra layer of support – but she told me that she felt fine after the appointment and she just wanted to go and start her college work. This was a huge leap forward for her because her studies are offering a new outlet. She is finding a way to overcome.”
*Name and image changed to protect identity of survivor
Learn to spot the signs of domestic servitude and other forms of modern slavery at Spot the Signs of Modern Slavery | Hope for Justice.