Unseen Support Workers

The dental charity in the UK and overseas

At Unseen, we support survivors who have been identified as potential victims of human trafficking, forced labour and other forms of modern slavery. We provide 1:1 tailored support as survivors wait to receive the decision on their trafficking claim from the Home Office. Modern slavery can happen to anyone and we support a diverse range of nationalities, most commonly people from Albania, Vietnam, Sudan, Poland, Romania and Eritrea.

Forced labour tends to be the most common type of exploitation reported, but we also support people who have suffered from sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude.

Forced labour is prevalent in the UK and happens in a range of industries and venues. 

The expected sites would be car washes and nail bars, but it’s also prevalent in farming, construction, logistics, hospitality and even the care sector.

A big problem for survivors is that they haven’t had any access to dental care and it’s hard to get mainstream dentistry. Survivors have experienced trauma, which meant that brushing their teeth wasn’t a priority for them in the past.

Often survivors would not have been able to access medical or dental care, and in some cases, survivors have experienced damage to their teeth through physical violence.

We are working with people who have not had freedom for a long time, so they have yet to be able to access dental appointments or have their teeth examined. One of the first things we look at when we have clients is whether they need access to a GP or a dentist.
I think Dentaid is making a massive difference. There are so few NHS dentists taking on new patients. 

This has also had a great impact on survivors, as most wouldn’t have had access to a dentist for a very long time. I am supporting someone whose teeth were damaged as a result of abuse that took place, so there is a lot of trauma around dentistry for her.

She had really struggled to get a dentist due to her exploitation, and said she had a really positive experience with Dentaid. It was the first time she had been to a dentist in 20 years. She spoke so highly of Dentaid and said how comfortable she felt.

Modern slavery can be hidden from plain sight. It is important that we are all aware of the signs so we can help people out of exploitative situations. For example, when attending a GP appointment, the GP may notice an accompanying person speaking for them.

We can’t show you pictures of our patients, but they were incredibly grateful to receive treatment and advice from our fabulous volunteers.

This sign could mean that the person is under the control of another, who does not give them the freedom to speak on their own behalf. We also often find language barriers are used to further isolate victims from being able to reach out for support.

Anyone who notices that someone might be being forced to do something against their will can call the Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline on 08000 121 700.

This Helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year, day and night, with specialist call advisors who will be able to provide expert advice on what to do next.

Support workers from Unseen