How businesses can support the survivors of modern slavery

Post author image. Nicola Inge

Nicola Inge, Employment and Skills Director, explains what businesses should start doing to support survivors of modern slavery.

Modern slavery is one of the most significant and fastest-growing crimes of our time. In the UK:

  • 11,342 potential victims were referred to the National Referral Mechanism, the Government framework for identifying victims, in 2019 to 2020, a 51% increase on the previous year.
  • Almost three-quarters of victims are women and girls.
  • Nearly one quarter (23%) of survivors are UK nationals.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made a terrible situation even worse for survivors. Up to:

  • 73% have experienced deteriorating psychological health, as it has been harder to access mental health services due to reduced capacity and issues of digital poverty.
  • 65% have struggled financially because of the partial closure of food and baby banks, and loss of employment.

We urge responsible businesses to do more to improve the life chances for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Nicola Inge, Employment and Skills Director at Business in the Community

So what can businesses do?

Under the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, large businesses in the UK must report annually on the steps that they have taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in their own organisation or supply chains. But meeting regulatory requirements should be just the starting point.  We urge responsible businesses to do more to improve the life chances of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

The focus for this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, held on 30 July, was about the first responders to modern slavery, those people who work to identify, support, counsel and seek justice for survivors. At Business in the Community, we believe that this should be businesses’ focus too. Companies should consider how they can best support those organisations on the frontline. This can be done either by providing essential goods like food and clothing to meet basic needs, helping survivors into work, or offering their expertise to help support organisations be as effective as they possibly can.

We here at BITC work with our member organisations to help them identify and implement ways to make a real difference to the lives of survivors of modern slavery. Our new factsheet, exclusively available to our members, sets out practical steps that can be taken now.



  1. Modern Slavery: National Referral Mechanism and Duty to Notify Statistics UK, Q2 2020
  2. Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery, St Mary’s University (2018) A Game Change? Long Term Support for Survivors of Modern Slavery
  3. Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (2020) Annual Report 2019 to 2020, September 2020
  4. Office for National Statistics (2020) Modern slavery in the UK, 26 March 2020
  5. University of Nottingham, Rights Lab (2021) Risks and Impacts of Covid-19 for Modern Slavery Survivors in the UK, March 2021