SJOG MDS Services

SJOG’s Modern Slavery Services provide accommodation and outreach services to support victims of trafficking and modern day slavery.

Hear from two people for whom SJOG has provided support to help them rehabilitate and recover from their experiences.

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A little bit about how you ended up in an SJOG safe house

I am a victim of modern day slavery. I was not aware that it was called modern day slavery until I travelled to the airport in search of the Home Office. I did not know the Home Office was not at the airport. I came across the police and explained my situation to them. The police referred me to the home office and then SJOG.

How do the team support you?

When I arrived at the safe house, I met my project worker who helped me gain access to legal representation, counselling and college where I completed a few courses. My project worker also helped me to access voluntary work along with connecting me with an organisation that helped with my mental health. I am currently registered at college studying English and maths level 2. My project worker continues to conduct wellbeing checks and sends a handover to any other staff that are on duty.

Plans for the future and how we are helping you?

I am currently waiting to hear what is happening with my case and in the meantime, I am doing a voluntary support worker role and counselling sessions so I can apply for a job in the future when I am given the permission to work. In the future I would like to become a mental health practitioner so I can help people that are suffering with mental health.

A little bit about how you ended up in an SJOG safe house

I arrived in the UK on a student visa and was living with family members. After ‘disagreements’ with my family, I ended up homeless.

I was homeless in London for a while, and I used to sell my art on the streets and cafes, to get some money and get food. One day, a lady, approached me. She told me she had observed me for some time and had taken the courage to talk to me and enquire about my situation. After speaking with me and listening to my story, she explained to me that what had happened between me and my family was a type of abuse and she referred me a place that could help me. With a referral and an interview over the phone, I was offered support at one of SJOG’s safe houses.

How do the team support you?

I was made very welcome from day one. Everyone asked me about my life, things I would like to do and what I needed, such as basic needs - food, clothing, etc.

A short while after my arrival, the referrals to start English classes came, as it was one thing that I had expressed an interested in during my talks with my project worker. Other referrals were made and I attended cooking classes, and a group at the community centre. These helped me to start developing connections in the local community. SJOG gave me the first kickstart to my new life.

Once I started engaging with the projects, I was referred to yoga classes where I could go and have a coffee within the LGBT community and where they have several events going on. I then, got involved with a project specific for trans-people and non-binary people – where I went for coffee and had support groups meetings weekly.

From this project, I started attending meetings at the community kitchen where we have dinner twice a month to welcome and nurture the LGBT community support. I was also able to access acupuncture, which helped me with my panic attacks and nightmares.

I had frequent panic attacks while I was homeless in London and had the same in Brazil due to the harassment suffered due to my gender option. I had fewer panic attacks after arriving at SJOG’s safe house, and after the support I received, I can say I did not have more panic attacks as I felt heard, safe and supported.

Having access to such a variety of groups, gave me also the opportunity to volunteer at cafes and food banks, improving my employability skills.

A little about the system – don’t go overboard!

I believe the system is slow but accessible. It respects the person and I was respected by who I am, the way I am. I have a positive experience with the system up to now.

Plans for the future and how we are helping you?

My plans for the future are:

Medium term project - I would like to settle financially to have stability to start looking for my own place to live. I will have that as soon as I get the right work. I will be able to start a job to give me the financial means I need to settle.

Sometimes I stop and start thinking that I need to have a career first, but I should think on both, career and stability. So on the long run, I can have the roots and connections to be able to develop the family and life I wish to build.

As a career path, I have tried several times to establish myself in the arts industry. During my life, I always worked my way some way somehow to get some financial returns from art, but I don’t yet believe I can make life out of it.

In Brazil, my major university degree was HR. I would like to share my time between some work that would support me financially and also work with art as it’s my passion and would be my first choice of work, and here in the UK, I believe I can manage to have both.

My long-term plan is to have a family and have children. I dream of this every day and I am working on a solid process to achieve my dream, and SJOG is helping me to get there.

I used to make and sell cards when I was homeless. Now I do my arts to gift to my house colleagues and friends I’ve made at SJOG and in Brighton. Here’s an example of my Christmas card:

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