It looks like you are using an out of date browser.
Please update your browser in order to use this website.

News  › 
Blogs and Opinion IMSA Model Development Project

IMSA Model Development Project

Survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking are required to navigate complex systems, services and legislation at a time when they are most isolated and vulnerable. An Independent Modern Slavery Advocate (IMSA) works with the survivor to understand and navigate this landscape, while helping them to overcome barriers and empowering them to make informed decisions about their recovery. An IMSA is a trained expert who considers the survivor’s social needs and legal rights together.

There is no accredited provision of independent advocacy for survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK today, despite this gap being well documented. The National Referral Mechanisms – Joining Efforts to Protect the Rights of Trafficked Person: A Practical Handbook, states: “Adult victims of trafficking should have an allocated advocate to provide individual support, needs and risk assessment, and act as a co-ordinating focal point for all involved professionals and services. The role of the independent advocate should be a recognized professional role, accredited or officially recognized by competent authorities, national authorities, law enforcement authorities and statutory social services.”  

Hope for Justice, The Snowdrop Project and the British Red Cross, together with consultants with lived experience of modern slavery, are working to address this gap, building on the Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care Standards. The IMSA Model Development Project draws upon the model of independent advocacy that has been developed at Hope for Justice over 11 years and independently reviewed by Dr Alexandra Williams-Woods of the University of Liverpool.

The IMSA Model Development Project initiative was launched in 2021 and was endorsed by the then Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton. The project will provide an accredited framework that can be used to deliver a standardised IMSA service for survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking throughout the UK. It is happening in three stages:

  1. The framework development (consultation and analysis)
  2. The pilot 
  3. National roll-out of the final model

Stage 1

During 2022-23, Stage 1 of the IMSA Development began with extensive consultation between the partner organisations, frontline staff, consultants with lived experience of modern slavery and others. The response to the consultation process, which finished in May 2023, has been fantastic. Participation included organisations and representatives from across all UK nations and all sectors, demonstrating a strong commitment to address the gap of independent advocacy for survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking. This sector-wide response has enabled the development of the IMSA Model framework to become a truly collaborative piece of work, with thanks to:

The data is being analysed from May to September 2023, while the draft IMSA Model Framework is developed.

Stage 2

Stage 2 of the IMSA Model Development will be launched on 28th September 2023 when the draft framework will be presented; findings from the Stage 1 independent evaluation shared; and plans for Stage 2 outlined. There are a number of ways to get involved to ensure that the final framework is robust and fit-for-purpose in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales: 

  • Become an IMSA Host Organisation and play a part in testing the framework 
  • *Submit a tender to provide training for IMSAs and/or Host Organisations  
  • *Submit a tender to deliver independent MEAL (monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning) / Research throughout the duration of the pilot, to monitor outcomes for survivors and evaluate project methodologies  
  • *Applying to join the Stage Two Advisory Board as a Consultant with Lived Experience of Modern Slavery 

*Further details on how to get involved with any of these parts of the project will follow in due course. 

If you have participated in the consultation processes throughout Stage 1, or you are interested in contributing to Stage 2 of the IMSA Model development, you are warmly invited to join us for Presentation of the IMSA Model Framework on 28th September 2023. Fill in this form to RSVP. 

young girl