Signposting support for vulnerable mothers

9th November 2023

The Clewer Initiative

Midwives, health visitors and other medical professionals play a vital role in caring for women throughout their pregnancies and beyond. Sometimes they may be some of the first responsible people to encounter a woman who has been trapped in sexual exploitation, domestic servitude or other forms of modern slavery.

Ante-natal and post-natal appointments where a victim of modern slavery may be able to talk a bit more freely are critical moments for healthcare professionals to handle with sensitivity and care. If midwives are alert to the warning signs of exploitation and equipped with the knowledge to know what to do, there could be an opportunity to identify a potential victim and signpost support.

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VITA Training plays a key role in providing practical training to front line healthcare professionals so they have the skills to identify, support and safeguard victims and survivors of modern slavery.

It was set up six years ago by Dr Rosie Riley who was regularly seeing patients that were trafficked or potentially trafficked as part of her work. She believed that her NHS colleagues didn't know enough about what red flags to look for, the scale of the issue and most importantly what to do when someone was sitting in front of them, presenting with signs of exploitation. Vita has recently launched new training for NHS Safeguarding Leads (see poster below)

In one study, more than two thirds of modern slavery survivors had presented in healthcare settings whilst or shortly after being trafficked.

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Source: Vita Training

The Clewer Initiative recently chatted to a paediatric fetal cardiologist who scans hundreds of women each year to help diagnose heart problems in babies before birth. She had become aware of a number of women in her clinic who she suspected may have been victims of sexual exploitation and she felt there was a huge opportunity for her to get alongside patients and signpost support. She also felt her lack of experience and knowledge in terms of the issue. This anecdote demonstrates the importance of the safeguarding training that VITA Training is developing.

If you work within the NHS or know someone on the frontline, please encourage them to find out more about VITA Training so they have the knowledge to do the right thing when a vulnerable person comes into their clinic or ward.

IMAGE Training Safeguarding adult victims of modern slavery human trafficking and exploitation

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