Trigger warning

This page contains information that may be upsetting and triggering to survivors of abuse.

pink watercolour background for Black Country Women's Aid modern slavery services

Modern Slavery Services

BCWA’s Modern Slavery Support service includes refuge and outreach for victims of modern slavery and international human trafficking. Since 2011, we have supported over 600 women and men of over 30 different nationalities across the West Midlands.


We support survivors who have been referred through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which is the British Government’s response to Modern Slavery. BCWA is the regional sub-contractor of the Salvation Army, which administers the national NRM support service.

What is Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery is a term that covers slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. The British Government estimates that there are around 13,000 people in modern slavery in the UK today.

The problem transcends age, gender and ethnicities, and can include victims that have been brought from overseas, and vulnerable people from the UK being exploited or forced to illegally work against their will. Victims may be controlled or held through threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, and abuse of power or vulnerability.

Modern slavery can take a number of forms and includes: child trafficking either internationally or domestically; forced labour or debt bondage; forced prostitution; criminal exploitation including cannabis farming; domestic servitude; and removal of organs.

pink watercolour splash for Black Country Women's Aid Fundraising
icon representing slavery for the Black Country Women's Aid modern slavery services

Our support service is provided to victims referred through the NRM (National Referral Mechanism)

If your agency is a first responder, you can make a direct referral to the NRM using the referral forms and guidance documentation on the Home Office’s Modern Slavery resource page linked below.


If you are not a first responder, you can contact the police on 101 to report a case of modern slavery.

More information on modern slavery

How do I recognise modern slavery?

Modern slavery is a diverse crime and can take place anywhere from private homes to apparently legitimate businesses such as nail bars, car washes, restaurants, factories and farms. There can be some common indicators however, and warning signs you might come across that someone is being exploited can include:


  • physical signs such as appearing malnourished or unkempt, appearing nervous or paranoid, lacking health or dental care, signs of physical, psychological or sexual abuse;
  • isolation: appearing to be under the control of others; being unfamiliar with the neighbourhood or where they work, or being isolated from the community;
  • restricted freedom of movement such as not being allowed to travel alone, or being transported to work at unusual times;
  • poor living conditions : living in dirty overcrowded conditions or living and working at the same place;
  • lack of control, having few possessions or always wearing the same clothes; having no documentation; not being allowed to speak for themselves;
  • reluctance to seek help: fear of law enforcement or statutory services for a number of reasons, such as not knowing where to get help, fear of deportation, fear of violence to them or their family.


You can read more about the signs of modern slavery here.

What do I do?

If think you are a victim of modern slavery or know someone who is, it is important that you report it to your local police by calling 101.


If you are reporting a potential victim, do not attempt to let the victim know you have reported it or confront the traffickers. You need to ensure their safety and yours.


If your agency is a first responder, you can make a referral into the National Referral Mechanism. You can find links to guidance below.

What is the NRM (National Referral Mechanism)

The NRM (National Referral Mechanism) is the UK framework for identifying victims of human trafficking or modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support. Potential victims must be referred to the NRM by an authorised agency known as a ‘first responder’, these include local authorities and police forces. You can find more information on the NRM here.


People who are referred to the NRM are granted a reflection and recovery period while their circumstances are investigated and during this time they have access to specialist support. BCWA provide the West Midlands region-wide support service as a subcontractor of the Salvation Army.

The support we offer

Survivors of modern slavery come to BCWA having experienced some of the worst trauma and exploitation that an individual can face. Most of the women we support have been trafficked from their home country and forced into prostitution, and we also have supported men of all ages who have been exploited as forced labourers or cannabis cultivators.

BCWA are specialist in working with people who have been severely traumatised by abuse, violence and exploitation, and our Modern Slavery Team works with passion and compassion to support them on their journey from victim to survivor, offering:

  • Emotional support and counselling to come to terms with their experience;
  • Safe refuge for women and children;
  • Support to access services such as healthcare; many female survivors come to our service late in pregnancy without having had any pre-natal care; survivors who have been sexually exploited are at high risk of infections or HIV;
  • Support to understand their legal rights and entitlements as a victim of modern-day slavery;
  • Links to local services and educational courses, to develop confidence and independence;
  • Support with their next steps, whether it is safe for them to return home or if they need to claim asylum.
Black Country Women's Aid Modern Slavery logo

Trigger warning

Promise, who is supported by our service, told her story of being trafficked into prostitution to Unilad for this video. Please note that this video contains distressing content related to sexual violence.

Play video

Contact us if you need more information or advice

Email our team