More than 25 human rights groups, including Hope for Justice, have written to the main mobile network companies, asking them to provide a vital welcome text to Ukrainian refugees arriving in the UK. Signatories to the letter include the outgoing UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, as well as leaders of key anti-slavery charities in the UK.
The Ukrainian welcome text would include essential safety information, plus the help that is on offer should anyone need it. It would be triggered the moment an individual arrives in the UK.
The letter has been sent to the CEOs of Vodafone UK, Virgin Media O2, EE and Three UK – Ahmed Essam, Lutz Schüler, Marc David Allera and Robert Finnegan. Here is the text of the letter and the signatories.
Please provide a welcome text to Ukrainian refugees arriving in the UK that includes essential safety information – it could help thousands avoid the very real threat of modern slavery and other forms of exploitation.
We are writing to ask you to do a very simple thing that will help thousands of Ukrainian refugees avoid the very real threat of modern slavery and other forms of exploitation when they arrive in this country.
Please could your company provide a welcome text on your network that includes essential safety information, plus the help that is on offer should anyone need it.
As you’ll know millions of Ukrainian people, mostly women and children, are fleeing the war in their homeland, with thousands of them coming to the UK.
Many of them will have no connections here, few belongings with them, and possibly very little financial security. They are extremely vulnerable – and unfortunately, that means they are at risk of exploitation by criminals.
The situation is urgent. Already there have been reports of trafficking of refugees in countries adjoining Ukraine. We want to make sure the UK does all it can to avoid such a situation happening here, so we are asking that you please act immediately.
A simple welcome text, in Ukrainian and English, triggered the moment Ukrainians arrive in the UK and switch on their phones, could make all the difference.
To speed things up, we have suggested some information you could include in the text below.
Please let us know your response to our request by return. For ease, please can you email firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to hearing from you.
- Tamara Barnett, Director of Operations, Human Trafficking Foundation
- Stephen Bell, CEO, Changing Lives
- Kathy Betteridge, Director, Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery, The Salvation Army
- Paul Bott, CEO, SJOG Hospitaller Services
- Amber Cagney, Development Manager, West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network
- Luke de Pulford, CEO, Arise Foundation
- Jason Foo, CEO, BBD Perfect Storm
- Red Godfrey-Sagoo, CEO, Sophie Hayes Foundation
- Nick Grono, CEO, The Freedom Fund
- Christian Guy, CEO, Justice & Care
- Martin Hancock, CEO, BCHA
- Meg Heath, Co-CEO, Palm Cove Society
- Wanjiku Mbugua-Ngotho, Acting Chief Executive, Bawso
- Peter McAllister, Executive Director, Ethical Trading Initiative
- Elysia McCaffrey, CEO, Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority
- Tim Nelson, CEO, Hope for Justice
- Ed Newton, CEO, City Hearts
- Caroline O’Connor, CEO, Migrant Help
- Jasmine O’Connor OBE, CEO, Anti-Slavery International
- Tauhid Pasha, Acting Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM) UK
- Dr Rosie Riley, CEO, VITA
- Patrick Ryan, CEO, Hestia
- Dame Sara Thornton, UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner
- Dr Dora-Olivia Vicol, CEO, Work Rights Centre
- Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO, Unseen
- David Westlake, CEO, IJM UK
Suggested UK welcome text for Ukrainian refugees:
Welcome to the United Kingdom. Your safety is a priority. Please read this vital information.
As you leave the airport, port or train station:
Don’t give your passport, mobile phone or residence permit to anyone
Don’t leave children with anyone you don’t know
Don’t give money to anyone offering you work, accommodation or transport
If you are concerned for your safety in the UK, please call for free the UK police on 999 or the UK Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline on 08000 121 700
For free travel options [link]
For useful and trusted information [link]
The UK stands with Ukraine