“Restoring hope to those who have none” – The pivotal work of West Midlands Anti Slavery Network
With the aim of reducing modern slavery and providing immediate support and accommodation for its victims, Hannah Periton takes pride in the work that she and all at the West Midlands Anti Slavery Network do.
The Birmingham-based charity offers a place of safety at the point of rescue for survivors of modern slavery. It helps to meet the needs of those who arrive at their safe house - the only one of its kind in the UK and exclusively for males - with Hannah’s role as health and wellbeing specialist being critical in providing support to survivors' physical and mental health. All of this goes towards offering them hope and routes out of slavery.
Hannah says: “Modern slavery and human trafficking are terms that we all know, however very few people know how this type of exploitation operates today, let alone how it impacts the UK. Modern slavery and human trafficking are the illegal exploitation of people for personal or financial gain. This illegal exploitation takes place in every country, city, and region in the world, and impacts thousands of men, women, and children in our own country. Exploitation often operates in plain sight in all too familiar places such as nail bars and car washes.”
Having started her role in 2022, Hannah has seen the extent of the organisation's work and just how important its services are due to the lack of support for men across the country. With her day-to-day greatly differing and informed by the survivors who come through the door, she and her colleagues are working towards breaking down the barriers they all face.
Hannah says: “I genuinely believe I have one of the best jobs going. Every day is different because my role adapts to the needs of each survivor. This can involve a range of things including coordinating medical appointments, spending time with the survivors, securing donations, and providing all survivors with essential items such as clothes and toiletries.
“I have recently been doing some gardening with a survivor who found enjoyment and escape in physical activities and the outdoors. The support the safe house provided was hugely appreciated with him telling us his stay at the house gave him a new sense of hope for his life and turned his mental health around. Advocating for men’s mental health is something we are all passionate about since men can often face different barriers to accepting and communicating their issues.”
Dependent on funding
The West Midlands Anti Slavery Network has received over £500,000 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, thanks to National Lottery players.
“This support, from the National Lottery Community Fund, underpins the running of the safe house. It goes towards the upkeep of the house including utility bills, house furnishings, bedding, and furniture.
“It is very important to us that the safe house feels like a home so survivors can rest and recover in an environment they feel comfortable and safe in. The money also goes towards ensuring there is a constant stock of food in the house for all survivors to use, as well as stocks of clothing which many are reliant on” says Hannah.
While the project’s work directly benefits survivors, they are also passionate about amplifying the voices of those they help in the bid to raise awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking.
Hannah says: “I think it is important now more than ever to be informed and raise awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking. To end modern slavery we need to ensure more people are able to spot the signs of this exploitation that impacts millions of people around the world.
Making the difference
“I have been amazed at the impact we are having on the lives of survivors; this is hugely attributable to the dedication and kindness of all members of our team and partner organisations.”
Thanks to Hannah’s passion and the unwavering support of the team at West Midlands Anti Slavery Network, each survivor is met with the opportunity and hope to rebuild their life.