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“When we set Hope at Home up 6 years ago, it was to provide safe homes for survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking to give them the chance rebuild their lives.

And we’ve seen this happen.  It has been awe-inspiring to watch from the sidelines.

But in the last few years, we have noticed less referrals for people wanting to find stability to rebuild lives and more referrals for people who just need to get off the street.

In 2022 – 2023, for example 15% of our referrals were for people who were sleeping rough at the time of referral.  This rose to a staggering 32% in 2023 – 2024.

Mostly this is due to changes in policy that have meant newly recognized refugees are given short notice to leave asylum accommodation and do not have the time or finances to find somewhere safe to live.  Local Authority housing is bursting at the seams and survivors of modern slavery are not seen as having a priority need.

So they find themselves street homeless and vulnerable to being exploited once again.

We will always do our best to find a home for someone who is referred to us.  Our team’s perseverance to do their utmost is incredible as is the beautiful welcome of hosts who invite a stranger into their homes.

But we shouldn’t be needed.

Survivors of modern slavery live with acute trauma, often physical and mental health conditions due to their experiences and may be very isolated.  They are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.  Yet our policies and systems do nothing to protect them. Instead, they discard people back on to the streets and put them at risk of further harm.

I am enormously grateful to all our hosts who wonderfully accept their guests and treat them as family.  Being able to offer 10,000 nights of safe homes is thanks to these volunteers who make such a difference just by opening their front door.

I’m always inspired by the resilience of our guests who, despite the trauma and uncertainties they face, continue to push forwards, learn new things, make new friends, laugh and show immense courage.

But I wish we weren’t needed.

I wish our country was a safe place for survivors of modern slavery.  A place where they were listened to.  A place where they were treated with honour.  A place where they were safeguarded from the risks of homelessness and re-exploitation.  A place where they could bring their expertise and wisdom to contribute to society.  A place where accommodation is a basic right. A place where people’s safety is more important than money or votes.  A place where we welcome and embrace those who are different to us.

So, whilst 10,000 nights may be a milestone.  I’m not going to say ‘here’s to 10,000 more’. I’m going to continue to fight until safe homes are offered to everyone.  And in the meantime, we’ll keep providing them.  Because who wouldn’t?”