Helping the hurting

Sharing stories from homeless organisations who have come into contact with victims of modern slavery...

As part of our Let’s Talk campaign we heard from the P3 Street Outreach team in Lincolnshire, who have seen numerous cases of modern slavery in their work.

Jorgen* – a German national – was first found rough sleeping by the P3 Street Outreach team in mid 2017. Whilst reluctant to engage with the team initially he did disclose that he had been in the UK for approximately 18 months after cycling from Germany to the UK, that he had a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, and that he had previously lived in supported accommodation in another part of the UK.

Over the coming months the team would visit Jorgen at his sleep site, carrying out welfare checks in the early hours of the morning as well as offering support around access to accommodation, benefits, and health services. All offers of support were refused.

Late in 2017 the team were contacted by Lincolnshire Police. Jorgen’s tent had been burned down, and the police believed him to have been the victim of modern slavery. They had offered to refer him into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), the government system of support for victims of modern slavery, but he had refused. He would return to the street.

A short while later, after being detained in hospital involuntarily due to his mental ill health, he was again asked if he wanted to enter the NRM. This time he accepted. As a result he was placed in accommodation outside of Lincolnshire where he would have access to ongoing support. Whilst receiving support via the NRM, Jorgen received a ‘conclusive grounds’ decision – meaning the government had confirmed that he was definitely a victim of modern slavery.

Unfortunately a ‘conclusive grounds’ decision does not come with an automatic right to accommodation or any other support beyond a short extension to safe house accommodation. The safe house providers who he had been staying with during the NRM period were searching for long term accommodation for him, but before they could find any, in mid 2018 Jorgen decided to return to the streets of Lincolnshire.

Following this, the Street Outreach team from P3 – with Street Outreach Worker, Lisa, leading the way – again carried out welfare checks as well as offering support around access to accommodation, benefits, health services, food and washing facilities. An offer of support to return to Germany, in a planned way, was also put to Jorgen, but he refused and would become visibly angry at the very mention of it.

It was then that the P3 team had a breakthrough! Upon making contact with the supported accommodation Jorgen had lived in after coming to the UK, they confirmed that he had previously spent a number of months detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act in another part of the UK. He was therefore eligible for S117 aftercare services.

With this new information, and the support of both the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust (LPFT), an Adult Needs Assessment was carried out. Jorgen was finally provided with somewhere safe to live on a temporary basis, pending more suitable accommodation becoming available.

Thank you to P3 for the permission to share this story, you can find out more about their work on their website. More information, including guidance notes on how to engage with modern slavery and homelessness, can be found on our Let’s Talk page.

*name changed to protect identity

Lead photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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