In 2015 Invisible Traffick GB setup Tamar House to provide much needed ‘second-phase’ aftercare that supported, strengthened and guided individuals to new fruitful lives.
Our vision was to provide a house of safety for survivors. Due to numerous funding complexities in October 2017, we decided to close Tamar House.
The running of Tamar House has only deepened our belief that there is a desperate lack of appropriate support for victims of human trafficking in the UK. Sadly, this lack of understanding means that women can be put further at risk by those that are trying to help. This led to the development of our unique trauma training package.
We know that when organisations make referrals to access safe houses, women are subsequently seen coming back through the system within 6 months. Many individuals and organisations, along with ITGB, recognise that the 45 day reflection and recovery period, granted by the NRM is not a long-term solution.
What we offered
- A place of safety with 24/7 support, provision with all aspects of daily living in a homely environment where women can feel safe. It is recognised that ‘feeling safe’ is the first step towards recovery.
- Volunteers and support workers worked within a holistic model of care to support individuals’ needs.
- Each woman had weekly one-to-one counselling with our qualified counsellor, and additional workshops to build confidence.
- Specialist trauma care programme, developed by Becka Johnson in the USA.
- A dedicated rehabilitation programme.
How Did We Exist?
Invisible Traffick GB (ITGB) was set up in 2015 with the primary purpose of funding and opening a House of Safety where survivors of human trafficking for sexual exploitation could have an open-ended period of rehabilitation, with the aim of leading independent lives.
Since Tamar House opened to residents in November 2016, it received no government or council funding towards the £65,000 per year running costs. The house needed 24/ 365-day staffing, which was provided by a team of unpaid volunteers.
Meals for residents and care provision were funded and sourced solely from public fundraising and private donations. However, recognition and government funded support would have enabled us to enhance the service we provided to open more houses of safety that would in turn provide a much needed lifeline to victims.
The Referral Criteria
All our clients were females over 18 who had received a ‘conclusive grounds decision’, or young women who had been trafficked from the UK in the UK. Referrals were accepted from recovery and reflection facilities through the NRM and other agencies. The individual care plans in Tamar House were specifically developed for those who have been victims of sexual exploitation and were adapted to meet the needs of the individual.
We worked on a ‘no time limits’ basis with care plans focused on the individual. With only six beds we could only accept limited referrals. In the long term we hoped that our work would prove to be a best practice template that could be followed by other safe houses.
What we learned
The running of Tamar House has only deepened our belief that there is a desperate lack of appropriate support for victims of human trafficking in the UK. Throughout the year we accompanied clients to various appointments with health and social care professionals and were shocked to discover a complete lack of understanding of the vulnerabilities and complex issues common to victims of human trafficking. This lack of understanding means that women can sadly be put further at risk by those that are trying to help.
The Human Trafficking Foundation believes there is a causal link between the way a person is treated after being released from the control of traffickers and the potential downward spiral back to a situation of slavery or exploitation. We have found that the current options for housing and support in the post safe house period are not sufficient for survivors of modern slavery. If there is no effective strategy to prevent re-victimisation, then generational cycles of abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people may continue unabated. (Life Beyond the Safe House, Human Trafficking foundation 2015)
What we learned
Invisible Traffick GB are very proud of Tamar House, the work that we achieved, the lives that we changed, the volunteers that supported and the networks that we formed. We have learned so much more. If you’d like to discuss anything or you have questions please get in touch.