About Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU)

Our vision is fair and free society in which no one is enslaved or exploited.

Our mission is to secure safety and justice for survivors of trafficking by using and reforming.

Our strategic priorities are:

  1. To increase provision of high quality, holistic, legal support to survivors of trafficking most in need
  2. To improve protections for survivors of trafficking through strategic litigation, campaigning and lobbying
  3. To develop ATLEU as a model of excellence and good practice, and through strong external relationships strengthen the capacity of others to meet trafficked survivors’ needs
  4. To invest in ATLEU’s people and build a culture of resilience
  5. To diversify ATLEU’s income streams, build capacity and drive efficiency

Our values are integral to who we are, what we do and how we do it.

  • There is always another way

We are persistent, resourceful and creative in our approach.We do the hard work to make justice accessible.We don’t give up in the fight for fairness and freedom.

  • We make the time. We listen. We hear

We take the time to really listen to our clients and colleagues. We want to restore autonomy and agency from where it was stolen.We give advice, not tell you what to do. If you fight, we fight.Our clients’ needs come first.

  • Knowledge is for sharing.

We lead the way in our knowledge and expertise of reforming the law. The strength of our team comes from our willingness to collaborate and share.We put our work before pride and always ask for help.Power of our knowledge comes through sharing it with others to secure justice and reform the law.

Our approach is to create lasting positive change for all survivors of trafficking through:

  • legal casework
  • strategic litigation
  • capacity building, to strengthen the sector’s response to trafficking and slavery, specifically, legal capability training, second-tier advice and sharing legal information and resources
  • policy, research and campaigns.

We are committed to challenging discrimination and oppression, and this includes a commitment to understanding and tackling structural racism. We recognise that race plays a major role in immigration and modern slavery policy and practice and in the way that support and advice services are designed and delivered. We are committed to amplifying the voice of survivors of trafficking and slavery within ATLEU and the wider sector and to working to ensure that people with lived experience are partners in bringing the change needed. We are committed to tackling climate change. Modern slavery actively contributes to environmental harm, whilst environmental degradation is a major driver of  migration which leaves people at risk of exploitation. These are key themes of our work and we are looking for a candidate who believes in our approach and will live our values.

Our work

ATLEU is the only UK charity providing dedicated and holistic legal advice to survivors of human trafficking and slavery. We are at the forefront of this vital and fast-moving area of law, bringing high-profile strategic challenges that shape the way the law develops and strengthening the protections for all survivors of trafficking. We have brought many of the leading ‘trafficking cases’, including acting in those heard by the Supreme Court. Our legal work encompasses a breadth of legal issues, at both an individual and strategic level, including: access to justice; employment rights and the recovery of compensation; securing identification and protection from removal; and access to appropriate accommodation and support for survivors.

Legal advice is an essential component in obtaining the support, safety and redress that survivors need to move forward, recover and re-integrate. ATLEU works intensively with survivors over several years often assisting with multiple matters, helping to regularise their immigration status, obtain identification as a victim of trafficking, access treatment, support and appropriate housing, and recover compensation.

We work in partnership with frontline organisations and advisers to improve the quality and availability of support and advice available to survivors of trafficking throughout the UK. Each year ATLEU advises and trains hundreds of professionals who work with survivors of trafficking. In some parts of the UK survivors can wait up to a year to see a lawyer. The problem is acute in the north of England and, in response, in 2018 ATLEU opened a second office in Sheffield to improve access to this essential support which plays a crucial role in fighting trafficking in the UK today.

We seek to capture and share knowledge and insights gained from our casework, second-tier advice, training and research to inform our future work, support test cases and influence law and policy.  

Some of the recent publications that we have led and contributed to include:

  • Access to legal advice and representation for survivors of modern slavery, University of Liverpool, ATLEU, Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham [May 2021]
  • A Cruel and Unlawful Burden: Reporting conditions for survivors of trafficking, ATLEU [May 2021]
  • Access to Work for Survivors of Slavery, ATLEU in a coalition of leading anti-trafficking NGO’s [March 2021]
  • Survivors of trafficking and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, ATLEU [November 2020]

Although just a small team, ATLEU’s work has led to significant changes in law and policy. Since we were established in 2013 we have led the way in ensuring that survivors of trafficking have access to free, independent legal advice by enabling access to legal aid, across the range of issues survivors experience. For example, our litigation against the Legal Aid Agency led to their concession that legal aid provision was insufficient for victims of trafficking and an increase in the number of trafficking compensation cases that legal aid providers were contractually able to assist with each year (from 5 up to 100). Following litigation on behalf of our client LL, the Legal Aid Agency agreed that victims of trafficking were legally entitled to free immigration advice on applying for leave to remain in the UK on the basis of their trafficking experiences and publicised this entitlement.

This year we have seen two changes to the law that will make a huge difference to the lives of  domestic workers. These changes wouldn't have happened without the cases we brought on behalf of domestic workers. The government has confirmed that it will limit the State Immunity Act, so that embassies are no longer able to avoid domestic employment claims in the UK by raising State Immunity as a defence when, for example, they employ people as housekeepers. The government has also now agreed to remove the family worker exemption to the national minimum wage, which means that employers will no longer be able to use it to pay low or no wages to their live-in domestic workers

ATLEU is recognised as a Centre of Excellence by the London Legal Support Trust and was awarded both the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award and the Marsh Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Fight Against Modern Slavery Legal Award in 2016. In 2019 ATLEU was nominated for a Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award in the access to justice through IT category for ATHUB, its online legal information resource for professionals working with survivors of trafficking.

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