Did you know men, women & children are being tricked and trafficked everyday right here in the UK?  Modern slavery – if we do nothing, nothing will change!

Medaille Trust combats modern slavery by: offering safe housing, providing support for victims, raising awareness in communities  and partnering with law enforcement authorities.

What is Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery is a serious crime against humanity.  It incorporates different forms of slavery including, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, organ harvesting, forced labour and forced criminal activity.

Victims of modern slavery often face more than one type of abuse, exploitation and slavery before they are rescued.  In simple terms, a person is trafficked if they are brought to (or moved around) a country by others who threaten, frighten, hurt and force them to do work or other things they don’t want to.

Is there a problem in the U.K?

The U.K Government estimates that there are tens of thousands of people in slavery in Britain today:

  • In 2017, over 5,000 people were referred to British authorities as potential victims of slavery  (this had risen by one third from 2016)
  • Referrals included victims from 116 countries
  • 46% of people were in labour exploitation  and 34% were in sexual exploitation.
  • Up to 34% of victims of slavery are estimated to be re-trafficked.
  • U.K nationals make the biggest group of potential victims exploited within the U.K.
  • It is estimated that, today, there are over 40 million people living in modern slavery!

Who are Medaille Trust?

Since 2006, the Medaille Trust has become the largest provider of supported accommodation to victims of modern slavery in the U.K.

Founded in 2006 by a group of Religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests, the charity has been driven forward by our Life President Sister Ann Teresa SSJA.

Specialising in developing support plans and providing needs-led support, our safe houses are located throughout the U.K (three of which are in the South East area) and aim to empower our clients as they recover.

Our main priorities are helping our clients gain confidence and the ability to move on to a positive chapter in their lives – free from exploitation and slavery.  Recognising that every individual has their own set of experiences and circumstances, they are taken on a supportive journey which encourages a life of independence.

We are devoted to helping victims feel safe, informed and supported by:

  • Providing safe accommodation
  • Enabling access to health services and counselling
  • Offering emotional support
  • Providing financial and practical support
  • Liaising with law enforcement
  • Assistance with obtaining new identification documents
  • Integration into the community or a safe and supported repatriation

How can you help — volunteering

  • Become informed, spot the signs and know how to report it
  • Pray for victims and staff
  • Sign-up to receive regular information (our magazine)
  • Volunteer to help us raise funds (through your parish, group or work organisation) so that we can continue to provide the best possible support to victims of modern slavery
  • Follow us on social media @medailletrust
  • Book a representative for a talk on modern slavery
  • Express interest in becoming an Ambassador for Medaille Trust (through advocating the work of the charity and giving out our leaflets at your parish/parish groups/work organisation)
  • For any other type of volunteering/help that you feel you may be able to offer, please email: enquires@medaille-trust.org.uk

In an exciting new venture The Medaille Trust is partnering with Redemptorist Publishing to produce a book entitled Contemporary Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery in the UK. The authors are Sharon Benning Prince & Mike Emberson.

Sharon is a corporate and private equity lawyer who now additionally works on supply chains and modern slavery legal matters. She further sits as a Trustee for the Medaille Trust and Talitha Arts. She also provides pro bono assistance to the International Justice Mission and the Arise Foundation and is passionate about the empowerment of, and raising awareness for, voiceless women and children.

Mike Emberson has been involved in anti-trafficking work since 2003 and is, of course, our previous CEO. The book is dedicated to all those victims of human trafficking and modern slavery who remain to be rescued, to Sister Ann Teresa of the Order of St Joseph of Annecy (our founder) and the staff of the Medaille Trust.

It is hoped that the reader will gain three benefits from a study of the book:

  • Have a greater understanding of the problem and issues surrounding it.
  • Know what is being done to counter it. 
  • Know what they can do to assist.

The book describes the horror of modern day slavery and human trafficking in the UK. Each year, thousands of victims are brought into the country to be exploited in brothels, on farms and in private homes. This worldwide trade is estimated to enslave millions of people and earn, the perpetrators of the crime, billions of pounds. This book details the part the UK plays in this vile trade. Illustrated by real-life case studies and informed by the authors’ many years of work in this field, the shocking details of this human rights abuse are laid bare. Available now.

Volunteering – we need you!

We believe that Volunteers help to provide a diverse pool of experience along with helping the organisation/charity to achieve its aims and a level of service that could not otherwise be provided.  Volunteers are often able to help provide a wider range of skills (in which to utilise), providing a more sustainable and better improved, future lifestyle for the victims in our care.

There are two main areas in which we need your help:

1 – Working with our Diocesan Fundraising Representatives by becoming an Ambassador for Medaille Trust and advocating the charity (at your parish/parish group/work organisation) through giving out/distributing our leaflets/magazine or by organising a fundraising event.

2 – Working with the safe house staff to, either directly or indirectly, help the victims in our care.  We are often on the look out for help with the following activities:

  • Gardening
  • Employability skills
  • Interview skills
  • Job search
  • Life skills
  • Budgeting
  • DIY
  • Personal and social development
  • ESOL
  • Cooking
  • Personal hygiene
  • Exercise classes
  • Basic IT skills
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Support with admin

If you can offer the commitment of 2 hours per week, we would love to hear form you.  Please contact us on: enquires@medaille-trust.org.uk

Hi, my name is Catherine…

I am delighted to be a volunteer for the Medaille Trust. I have known and supported the charity for many years, raising money with musical events, and I now volunteer (once a week) for a few hours at a safe house in the Southern Region. Probably the best way to describe what I do is that I ‘hang out’ with the clients. Sometimes with four or five, or if it feels right, giving the majority of my time to just one person. We cook, play board games, go to Costa, paint nails, find bargains in charity shops – all sorts of activities. Clients are very lucky to have access to an allotment, although it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but as the days get warmer and the hose turns on… they enjoy an afternoon of gardening which, as we all know, improves our well-being out side in the sunshine. I feel a great sense of achievement when I can see the transition from a solemn face, in a dressing gown, to a laughing face out and about in the sunshine or the rain. Sometimes as I am driving, we go to the supermarket or one of the international food stores. They like sharing tips with me, for example, where you can buy almond oil at a quarter of the high street price or, that you can use basil seeds in the most delicious pudding.  It was so heartening to see how pleased one client was when she insisted I sat in a chair in the kitchen and watched her make samosas and she was even happier that I took some home to share with my family. The clients can be so giving and supportive. November last year, I organised a supper with music (performed by Freddie Ferrier) at a lovely venue with a raffle and prizes generously donated. We raised £2,300 which has been utilised to, not just decorate, but transform the north facing sitting room with carpet, curtains, settees and cabinets. The clients are so happy with the bright stylish, cosy room. The sitting room is really a place to relax and feel at home. Still a few soft furnishings to add!

Hi, my name is Kay…

I first became aware of the Medaille Trust last summer when my daughter Katie asked me how she would go about approaching Nationwide to fund raise for the safe house where she works. She explained they wanted to get the garden up together and buy a barbeque in order that the ladies could benefit from being outside and cooking together on the barbeque. I was quite keen to get involved as my department regularly fundraise for various local charities. We are also given 14 hours per annum to use on volunteering/social investment activities. The work we do, within our department, to tackle Human Trafficking is one of our key goals and therefore it was a very apt charity for us to sponsor. Last September, we organised a tombola and a cake sale, initially, and this enabled us to purchase plants (at a discount from some suppliers but also some plants were donated) and a team of 5 of us volunteered to clear the garden and replant to ensure there was colour throughout the year. We also purchased a barbeque, strimmer and some lights for the garden. A colleague and I returned to the garden on 26th April this year to weed and tidy up the garden. Following on from this, when it was approaching Christmas, we held another tombola, savoury bake sale, and sold ‘Reindeer Food’, made kindly by one of my colleagues, and raised further funds.  With these, we purchased toiletries, slippers and throws which we parcelled up and, therefore, each resident received a present. During February this year, we held another tombola and purchased items of underwear and sporty bra tops as Simone, who is the manager of the local safe house, advised that they were hoping to encourage the clients to take some exercise of some sort. I have recently held a Partylite candle party at my house and also ran several candle raffles within my department (the prizes donated by Partylite representative) from which we have raised further funds and Simone has suggested this may go towards taking the clients for a day out in the summer. In addition to this, Nationwide has matched funded what we have accumulated from these events and, to date, the total raised is over £2000. I know that my colleagues, and myself, have really felt a sense of achievement from helping the ladies in some small way to integrate into the community and get their self-respect back. I hope to continue supporting such a worthwhile charity in the future.

The stories featured here are personal accounts.

Case Study – Fredericka Almes

Nationality: Albanian
Age: 27

Fredericka was married against her will, she was underage (17); this was forced on her due to the traditions her family hold in Albania. When Fredericka ran away from this marriage, she lost the support of her family.

Fredericka was living alone and her house was broken into: this scared her and she moved around and was working hard to pay her rent when she met a man in a coffee shop. They became friends and Fredericka thought of him as a boyfriend. He suggested going on vacation to Portugal and Fredericka accepted. She travelled alone and met who she thought was her boyfriend. On the evening she arrived, he took her to a house where there were other men; her passport was taken and she was held captive and sexually exploited. She, along with other women, were moved around by lorry eventually being trafficked to the UK. Fredericka, and the other women, decided they would all run when the doors of the lorry were opened. They banged on the side and all ran when the doors where opened.

Fredericka has been free for two months and is slowly rebuilding her life. She is unable to talk about the things that have happened but is beginning therapy to help her focus on basic self-care needs. She struggles to sleep and suffers with migraines. Fredericka likes to keep busy and enjoys spending time with the other clients and helping with organising the children’s play room. Fredericka would like to find her sister and rebuild her life here in the UK; she would like to learn English and looks forward to beginning ESOL classes next week.

Fredericka is a quiet young woman who is often seen sitting quietly and reflecting and, although she now feels safe and physically well, she is not yet in a place where she can think about her future beyond the safe house. Our skilled staff continually work closely with her to recover at a pace that is right for Fredericka. We realise this could be a long journey for Fredericka but we will be there to hold her hand until she feels ready to take the next step in her life of independence.

Client Testimony – Flying High

Do you ever wonder why we meet new people? Why do we live some situations and moments? Everything happens for one reason, no? We go through all these situations wondering what the reason behind it might be. We make choices that make us live the moment hoping for that moment to never end. Choices that make us close our eyes, hard not to believe, that what we live, is reality.

Growing up in Albania with not much freedom, in a traditional family, where your life decisions are made on your behalf, where you belong only in the kitchen and where you are brought up to be a good daughter/sister/future wife/anything else but yourself, made me make the wrong choices by hurting myself, my family and all those who believed in me. I made decisions that took away my happiness, my family, and my respect for myself. Decisions for which the consequences will follow me everywhere. I was one of the girls that Medaille opened the doors to when I was most in need. The Medaille staff walked by my side and helped me find my way and not to walk with my head down. I took in every possibility Medaille gave me. I did not sit down in the corner and feel sorry for myself anymore. With the help of the wonderful staff, I spread my wings and, today, I fly high.

At first I was thinking: “If my family don’t love me and don’t want anything with me, why will some strangers help me, when they do not know me?” I thought it was just a job for them and they felt sorry for me but, from the first day I arrived at home, I felt warm, comfortable and welcomed. Activities, games, conversations, advice, ideas, support and the love I received from Medaille Trust helped me regain trust in people. I opened myself up to allow these people to help me. They walked with me, step by step, through the legal procedures and sat down with me (in the long hours of waiting) at the Home Office.

There is a massive list of things and moments for which I am thankful to the Medaille Trust. Without my poor decisions and mistakes, I wouldn’t be here, where I am today, and I would not have met the amazing team that helped me find myself and helped me be who I am. Those decisions and mistakes made me what I am today. And do you know what? If today I get asked if I would change anything from my past, I would say no. Today, thanks to them, I keep my head up. An error in the past did not define who I am today. Today, I am a Nursing Assistant at a Hospital with aspirations to become a Nurse. I work hard to pay for rent, bills, food, shoes (a girl’s best friend!) and I give myself the luxury of going on vacation. I do things that I never thought I would do in my life. I wake up every morning with dreams, ideas and plans for the day ahead, and above all, I wake up with a smile.

You know the most beautiful irony of these years living in the UK? When I was supported by the Medaille Trust, they helped me with my legal procedures and I needed the assistance of an interpreter with my lawyer just to understand the legal terms better. Two years later, I went back to my solicitor but, this time, as an interpreter myself. I was sat on the other side. I was helping others sat in the chair where, at first, I was sitting myself. I have paid for my provisional driving licence and today I’m doing the practice (hopefully I’ll pass soon!).  I could never thank anybody enough who had the patience to work with me and did not give up. I know that I’m a handful but, patience, from the Medaille staff, gave me the hope that I can dream again.

From the heart, I say thank you. Thank you for your love, sincerity, patience, solidarity and understanding you gave to me. THANK YOU for the courage you gave me to open my wings so that, today, you have helped me to fly high. I once lived with fear, but today I do not know the meaning of that word. Today, I decided to be happy and smile.