A briefing paper produced by the Helen Bamber Foundation and King’s College London after they spoke to the All-Party Parliamentary Group in the House of Lords on Modern Slavery in Jan 2017. It provides an explanation of the mental health difficulties which victims of human trafficking suffer, and the impact this can have on their ability to recall their experiences and provide a consistent account of events when giving testimony.
The report, Addressing the Mental Health Needs in Survivors of Modern Slavery, found that survivors of forced labour, sex trafficking, and other forms of slavery frequently suffer from severe mental health problems including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but there has been very limited research on which treatments are effective. The study was commissioned by the Freedom Fund and conducted by the Helen Bamber Foundation.
The Foundation’s clinical team gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention. Professor Cornelius Katona, the Foundation’s Medical Director and our Head of Therapies, Dr Katy Robjant, gave evidence to demonstrate that it is not possible to adequately treat mental illness in a detention setting. Their research highlights the significant mental health impact of immigration detention on vulnerable people. We welcomed the key recommendations and findings in the resulting report, which praised the contributions from the Helen Bamber Foundation as some of the ‘striking statistics statements made during the witness session’ and agree that those suffering from mental illness, including victims of torture, trafficking and other human rights violations should never be detained for immigration purposes.
The Trafficking Survivor Care Standards were launched in the House of Lords by Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK’s first independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. The Helen Bamber Foundation’s Counter Trafficking, Lead Rachel Witkin, and Foundation’s clinical team authored Part 2: Enhancing Practice in Relation to the Health and Well-Being of Survivors. The Standards aim to provide a blueprint for UK-wide service providers across all professions on how to provide high quality care to survivors of trafficking and modern slavery. The Foundation’s ultimate goal for the Standards is to promote an integrated, holistic and empowering approach that places the needs of survivors at the centre of the process of sustained recovery, far beyond the current 45 day support offered during the ‘reflection period’.
This Paper, the first of its kind, was developed in partnership with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights. The OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) commissioned the report after a speech Helen Bamber made for them, in which she compared human trafficking to torture. In HBF’s long-term experience of working with survivors, both the injuries and trauma suffered in trafficking cases are comparable with that of survivors of torture. In this paper, this is explained in a comprehensive, accessible way to enable other professionals to take it forward in their own area of work. The OSCE’s Special Representative, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro gave the keynote address. She was joined by two guest speakers from the Helen Bamber Foundation and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute.