Kate's dream of creating a world without slavery puts her in line for national award

January 30 2017

Kate Garbers, managing director and co-founder of anti-trafficking charity Unseen has been recognised by the Directory of Social Change and shortlisted for a national award, for the success she has had in influencing the UK’s agenda on tackling slavery.

.

Kate Garbers, managing director and co-founder of anti-trafficking charity Unseen has been recognised by the Directory of Social Change and shortlisted for a national award, for the success she has had in influencing the UK’s agenda on tackling slavery. 

Not only is Kate responsible for opening the first safe-house for female victims of trafficking in the South West of England in 2011, she was also heavily involved in working with government to introduce the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and is now working to ensure it is implemented on the ground. 

Kate has developed processes to assist Police on operations to apprehend traffickers and ensure survivors are well looked after following their rescue. She has since gone on to manage the opening of the South West’s first 24-hour safe-house for male victims of slavery. In 2015, Kate presented a paper to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy to help shape the Pope’s contribution to the world leaders’ 2015 Sustainability Development Goals – one of which is to end human trafficking. 

Closer to home, Kate played a major role in bringing together Avon & Somerset Police and Bristol City Council to form an Anti-Slavery Partnership. The aim of this group is to ensure information and intelligence is shared so that slavery is at the heart of statutory decision-making. This partnership has now grown to include the five police regions across the South West (Devon & Cornwall, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire), and there are plans to share the model further afield. 

As with all Kate’s work, her aim to create real and lasting change for survivors. Kate said: “I believe strongly in a world without slavery and that it can be achieved. I’m motivated by a huge sense of injustice and inequality in the world around me, and a desire to challenge this wherever I find it. I’m really chuffed to have been shortlisted along with two other fantastic women in this category, and even more delighted that all three nominees are women!” 

In just five years, Unseen has grown from a charity with an income of £250k to one with a turnover of over £1m. In October 2016, Unseen launched a national Modern Slavery Helpline. In its first four weeks had received over 200 calls, 25% of which related directly to victims – others were from members of the public, frontline staff or businesses seeking advice. 

The women’s safe-house has now welcomed nearly 140 women through its doors from 34 different countries, which helps demonstrate the nature and scale of trafficking not only in the UK but worldwide. It is the only safe-house in the South West of England and is one of only three services in the country offering 24/7 support to female victims of human trafficking. Unseen also offers a resettlement service to help survivors continue their journey of recovery within their chosen community.  

The men’s safe-house has only been operating for six months, but already is seeing positive results – with four of the 12 survivors already securing jobs and living independently in the community. 

Kate was awarded a Citizenship Award by the McWhirter Foundation in 2012 and Unseen was given the Charity Times Award for Best Charity under £1million in 2015.

Voting closes in the final week of January and the result of the public vote will be announced in early February.