Friday, 18th October 2019

Young victims of trafficking marked Anti-Slavery Week by holding an event in parliament where they shared their experiences of living with uncertainty under the current support system and demanded the government provide all trafficked children with stable futures.

Hosted by Vernon Coaker MP, our youth-led parliamentary event provided members of ECPAT UK's youth programme for victims of trafficking with a platform to have their voices heard and to share photos they have taken to represent their feelings and experiences as part of ECPAT UK's stable futures campaign.

The stable futures campaign calls on the government to provide children with long term stability, including immigration status if it is in their best interest. Currently, young victims of trafficking face many barriers to recovering, pursuing their ambitions and building a future - including insecure immigration status, lack of access to education and lack of the right to work.

Once identified as victims of child trafficking, young people face arduous and intimidating legal and bureaucratic processes, which are often re-traumatising.

After having to repeat their story to frontline workers from numerous different agencies and support services, many young people find themselves prevented from moving on from their experiences by a system that should support them.


Sharing her photo (right) at the parliamentary event, Anna*, 16, from North East Africa, described the fear she felt on the long and traumatic journey to the UK.

When she arrived and was safeguarded by professionals, she thought her ordeal was over. Instead, it was the start of a new one. She said:

'In the UK, the Home Office asked a lot of questions. Then I received a letter saying my age is not accepted. My identity is not accepted.

'We're getting confused. We never have sleep. We are scared every night that they will send us back.'

Laura Durán, Senior Policy Officer at ECPAT UK, said 

'One of the biggest issues we have identified is young people being stuck in immigration limbo, which is a really significant challenge ih decisions about their future and becoming the adults they want to become.'

Sara*, 18, shared a photo (top of page) that 'represents the darkness of life'. She added

'We are here to be better people and to be what we wish and hope for.

'I would say help us to be that ‘better’ person. Not isolate us or make us feel our life is worse than it ever was.'

ECPAT UK is calling on the Home Office to provide vulnerable children and young people with stable futures by: 

  • Providing all trafficked and unaccompanied children with an independent guardian who will support them through the many complex systems and processes they face, including legal, criminal justice, immigration, education and care systems.
  • Setting up a process to find long term, sustainable arrangements for all trafficked children, including indefinite leave to remain in the UK if it is in their best interest.

Supporters can stand with young people like Anna and Sara by signing our stable futures petition and contacting their MP asking them to champion the campaign.



*Names changed to protect the young people's identities.

Photos must be credited to ECPAT UK.

Press contact

Sinead Geoghegan, Communications and Media Manager, ECPAT UK, [email protected], 0207 607 2136