The British Red Cross, Hope for Justice, and the Snowdrop Project, together with independent consultants with lived experience of modern slavery, are developing a framework for the accreditation of Independent Modern Slavery Advocates (IMSAs), to establish a model of advocacy that is standardised and can be replicated throughout the UK. The IMSA Model development builds on the model of independent advocacy for adult survivors of modern slavery that has been developed by Hope for Justice and independently reviewed by a researcher at the University of Liverpool in 2020.
IMSAs seek to empower survivors to make informed choices about their options and recovery, working with the survivor and their existing support mechanisms to open doors and create opportunities. By providing advocacy that looks at someone’s social needs and legal rights together, IMSAs provide support that is holistic and tailored to the individual, empowering them to overcome barriers and navigate complex systems.
The National Referral Mechanisms – Joining Efforts to Protect the Rights of Trafficked Persons: A Practical Handbook, produced by the OSCE/ODIHR, states: “Independent advocates have a central, independent function; however, their role should be accredited or officially recognized by national statutory services, law enforcement and authorities and all other NRM stakeholders.”
The IMSA Model Development project has initiated a response to this recommendation and the well-documented gap of independent advocacy in the UK’s response to modern slavery survivors. The project aims to achieve a best practice model that is scalable, replicable, and standardised, offering an accredited IMSA role.
The IMSA Model is being developed in three stages:
1) Development of the IMSA model framework
2) Piloting the IMSA model framework and
3) National roll-out of the IMSA Model
The framework underpinning this best-practice IMSA Model is being developed in consultation with frontline staff; the partner organisations; consultants with lived experience; and the wider modern slavery sector. Input is being gathered and evaluated through a series of workshops, questionnaires and surveys that will inform the development of the framework. The response and contributions to the proposed IMSA model has been positive and extensive from across all sectors and UK nations.
Consultation with the wider modern slavery sector is ongoing until May 2023. Learning continues to be gathered through the series of five full-day workshops, exploring key themes that impact the recovery of survivors and / or the development of the framework:
20th September 2022: Health, Social Care, Housing and Subsistence
15th November 2022: Survivor Support and the National Referral Mechanism
21st February 2023: Reducing Risk and Increasing Resilience
18th April 2023: Criminal and Civil Justice
16th May 2023: Multi-agency and partnership working. Independent Advocacy and the IMSA model
We will host a final workshop to present the framework and launch stage two of the project in Autumn 2023, and warmly welcome representatives from all participating organisations. Further details on this event will follow in due course.
Stage two of the project seeks to test the IMSA framework within different sizes, structures, and types of host organisations, in different localities. Building on the success of the collaborative approach we have applied throughout stage one we are keen to hear from experts who might be keen to get involved with any of the following:
• Organisations keen to participate in the pilot by hosting an IMSA
• Independent research / MEAL (monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning) provider to ensure that we capture data and learning about the impact of the IMSA model on survivor outcomes
• Training provider(s) to deliver an accredited IMSA training qualification, CPD (Continuing Professional Development) modules for IMSAs, and training for host organisations
If you are interested in joining the project in any of these capacities, please look out for further information in the coming months or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest. We look forward to continuing to collaborate as we work together to build a best practice model of independent advocacy for all adult survivors of modern slavery throughout the UK.