The importance of including survivors in research and policy building

As the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG) publishes research and a podcast series on the importance of including survivors in research and building policy responses, one of the peer researchers reflects on what the project and the inclusion of survivors means to her.

Women typing at a laptop

For me it is very important that as survivors, we get involved in research and policy building as I believe we’re agents for change.

We know and understand what we want and what is in our best interests. Unfortunately the Government, service providers and policy makers often overlook this.

Involving us in research and policy building would help address the gaps that are there as far as WE are concerned and on our own terms regarding the support we are receiving. This includes education, sustainable freedom, the right to settle in the UK and employment. We have expertise and experience as survivors of modern slavery, therefore getting our input is vital. We would be able to answer most questions seeking to understand the gaps in the system and provide advice on the solutions that we believe would benefit us as survivors, not just in the short term, but to help build long term, sustainable responses to modern slavery.

Including survivors means we get to be acknowledged and our voices get to be shared and heard, giving us the confidence we have been longing for, the power from our voices and also the hope that we matter in the society and community.

Including survivors in research provides a sense of value and worth. It means having something to look forward to, a sense of direction and control over personal decisions regarding career and employment. It instils a sense of hope regarding future career choices, develops unknown skills, helps gain knowledge and creates a sense of belonging to be working with survivors and non-survivors.

I believe our input and voices as survivors could help in the decision-making processes and bring change for other survivors across the country.

The Agents for Change project

Being included in the research project, and preparing for it, improved my literacy as I had to search for the unknown words and definitions to improve my understanding. I learnt about the research process and developed research skills, something I had previously no idea of. My communication skills also improved and I developed an interest in research as I continued reading materials for review to see what support is in place for survivors and how survivors are included in the work that involves them.

I have never been so excited about something, this time felt different as it is a chance to change the lives and what survivors are going through. I learnt how to organise and plan my tasks, and work within deadlines as well as under less supervision. It also taught me about the professionalism of the workplace. My confidence grew in learning new skills and knowledge. I benefited from having paid work experience in a professional role. I developed myself personally and became empowered. Now I am empowering other survivors, sharing my experience, my knowledge on research and research practice as part of the team delivering the research program.

Read the full report now, and listen to the researchers talk about their work in our new podcast series on YouTube.