South Swindon MP Robert Buckland has praised the "vital" work of Medaille Trust as he met survivors of modern slavery and declared open the charity's 10th safe house on Friday.
The new safe house is the charity's second one in Wiltshire and provides nine en-suite rooms and extensive garden grounds, which staff hope to use to grow fruits and vegetables. It houses male survivors of modern slavery. The other Wiltshire house caters for female survivors of modern slavery.
After declaring open the house, Sir Robert said: "I am aware that a number of agencies are collaborating to tackle modern slavery in Wiltshire. But it is also vital that while we go after traffickers, we provide refuge and care to the men, women, and children escaping from those who exploit them. That is why I am delighted that Medaille Trust has expanded its work in this area by opening a new safe house for survivors of modern slavery. While at the house, I was able to meet and chat with some of the survivors and the staff supporting them. I was happy to hear about Medaille's work in providing not just accommodation but personalised support so that these survivors can recover from their terrible experiences and rebuild their lives. Medaille is a valued subcontractor under the Government's Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract (MSVCC) with The Salvation Army, which funds supported accommodation for victims of modern slavery. This charity is doing incredible work in my constituency, and I look forward to it continuing to grow and expand its work. As MP for this area, I stand ready to support it as much as possible."
CEO of Medaille Trust Garry Smith said: "The number of victims of modern slavery is sadly growing significantly every year. It is essential that all agencies respond to this increase with much-needed support for those who escape and seek refuge and protection. We have grown from one safe house in 2006 to 10 safe houses today offering accommodation to 133 men, women and children, through the generosity of supporters. We hope to expand and reach out to more victims of modern slavery fleeing their exploiters by providing refuge, protection, and vital support to help them rebuild their lives.”
Senior Safe House Manager Katie Zaccaro said: "I have been able to develop the project, alongside my colleagues, to a point where we are open and able to provide nine new beds for victims of modern slavery. It has been exciting to see it blossom to this point, with the grand opening being a pivotal moment for both service users and staff alike. I was delighted to be able to welcome Sir Robert Buckland and showcase the important work we all do here at Medaille, providing accommodation and support with passion and care."