Hello, my name is Keiko, and I’m a Service Manager in the Modern Slavery Response Team. During my International Relations MSc, I became very interested in domestic abuse, and how it connected with wider gender and race international politics. So, I decided to start volunteering with Hestia’s Domestic Abuse Referral Line. This role was completely eye-opening on so many levels, from hearing diverse stories first hand, to learning about how police, councils, immigration, and schools play a significant part in the ability to access required support. Although it was extremely emotionally harrowing, I am so glad for the opportunity to have worked with such a kind, compassionate, and dedicated team.
When I completed by MSc and started applying for roles, I was offered a position in Hestia’s Modern Slavery Response Team as an outreach-advocate. I didn’t know very much about modern-day slavery before applying, but I knew I liked working with Hestia from my volunteering experience, and was very keen to continue working with people who couldn’t access their rights, and needed support.
As an advocate, I directly worked with 15 to 18 clients at a time, all of whom were survivors of modern slavery or trafficking, but all of whom had vastly different stories. It was shocking learning about the extent of modern slavery in the UK today and how many structural and mental barriers there are to accessing support. Overall, the role was fast-paced, emotional, tiring, thrilling, and above all, rewarding. I could not have done this role if it were not for the team who were so supportive and patient (huge shout out to all the team managers!).
After about a year, I stepped up to the team manager role and about a year after that, stepped up to the Phoenix Project service manager role. Phoenix Project is a small project within the huge Modern Slavery Response Team. We support roughly 45 survivors who have been exited from the contracted Home Office National Referral Mechanism but still need ongoing specialised support. Although I miss working directly with service users, I am really enjoying being part of the management team as it allows me to see more about the wider issues and think about how to tackle them. If someone ever offers me the chance to go back in time and change my career so far, I wouldn’t change a thing.