IOM supports survivors of trafficking in Northern Ireland

IOM’s recent analysis of the data from the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in Northern Ireland, the UK’s official system to identify and support potential victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, finds that the number of potential victims of human trafficking has increased steadily since 2015. The support provided to potential victims through the NRM, focuses on the initial recovery phase, after which people can face additional challenges in accessing other forms of support. employment is one of the most important factors favouring long term reintegration in society. While employment is one of the most important factors favouring long term reintegration. Employment is key, it can lead to financial independence, meaning, purpose, routine, stability in people’s lives, and the possibility of re-building an independent life.

At the moment there is limited help available for survivors to develop their skills and overcome the many employment barriers they face, such as language barriers, limited work experience, little training and qualifications, limited understanding of how the labour market works, low digital literacy, as well as low self-confidence, stress and anxiety about work. Many survivors also have refugee status or go on to achieve refugee status, particularly in Northern Ireland. Refugees in general are over 20% less likely to be in employment than the rest of the UK population.

This lack of access to education and employment can result in limited income, and limit opportunities to participate and contribute to society, hindering the possibility for survivors to re-integrate in society and putting them at risk of being re-exploited. In case of families, this can also translate into separation, for instance of children from parents.

The benefits of employment can be life-changing for the individual and their dependant, contributing to the creation of a healthier and more secure family environment for everyone to thrive in. 

IOM advocates that labour market integration and employment support for survivors should be part of any comprehensive re-integration programme, and to improve employment opportunities for survivors of trafficking, IOM UK has recently expanded its Skills Training and Reintegration (STAR) to male survivors of trafficking in Northern Ireland, to assist survivors referred by Migrant Help on their journey to employment and integration in the UK.

From February 2024 it will provide a 12-week in-person training, running three times throughout the year. The programme will train around 30 participants and will include:

  • Three months of skills training, covering digital skills, life skills and employment skills.  
  • Personalised one-to-one support provided along the way, to help put the learning into practice and to apply the skills when identifying or applying for employment or education opportunities.

IOM takes a comprehensive approach to addressing Trafficking in Persons. Advocating for rights, and protecting the physical, mental and social well-being of individuals and their communities, and promoting sustainability through institutional capacity development and partnerships, are at the centre of all of the Organizations’ counter-trafficking efforts.

IOM UK’s STAR programme in Northern Ireland is funded by Migrant Help under the Northern Ireland Department of Justice contract for the provision of support services for potential adult victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.