Engaging with survivors to understand the challenge

Engaging survivors in the design and implementation of a project can help to bring wider systemic impact, changing the narrative on what it means to be a survivor. This provides empowerment for survivors which can help an individual with long-term healing.

Engaging with survivors to understand the challenge

Key learnings

  • Recognise the importance of survivor inclusion.
  • Understand the opportunities you can provide survivors.
  • Ensure fair compensation can be provided.
  • Learn how to safeguard the well-being of survivors and employees.

The importance of engaging survivors

Over recent years, there has been a positive drive from survivor support organisations and survivor leaders to promote the inclusion of survivor voices in programmes and policy development. This shift has helped ensure that survivors are recognised for their expertise and capabilities, overcoming previous narratives which focus on survivors as victims.

It is essential to include survivors in the development and delivery stages of the programme planning to:

  • Shape programmes based on the lived experience of survivors, creating more successful programmes which holistically reflect survivors’ needs.
  • Help systemically change the narrative around what it means to be a survivor and survivor capabilities.
  • Empower survivors and help promote long-term healing.
  • Understand the factors that create vulnerabilities to help survivors and other vulnerable populations.

(Source: Walk Free)

All survivor programmes should be rooted in the realities of those with lived experience to reflect the identities of survivors and the vulnerabilities they face. The inclusion of survivors should therefore be “with” or “by” survivors, as opposed to “for” or “about them”, to avoid tokenisation.

This guidance, created by the Rights Lab and Survivor Alliance, explains in detail about including survivors in policy-making and programme development.

​​”We have all experienced trauma. This is something we share with other people with lived experience of slavery. By engaging in this conversation and helping to inform and shape policies that affect us, we will have a voice to create change for other survivors across the U.K.”

Survivor, Agents for Change, Anti Trafficking Monitoring Group

Opportunities for survivor collaboration

Projects and evaluations regarding survivors should either be survivor-led or created with the direct influence of survivors.

Survivor involvement may include:

  • Programme and content planning.
  • Board membership.
  • Creating and delivering trauma-informed and modern slavery training programmes.
  • Establishing survivor-led/survivor-informed advocacy campaigns.

To engage with survivors, financial institutions should consider providing additional support, such as training or upskilling for survivors to allow for equal participation and meaningful engagement. This may require allocating extended time for activities to be completed and acknowledging the importance of this. Empowering survivors through access to skills and training can help survivors to reclaim spaces not designed for them, creating wider systemic change.

Survivor Alliance

Survivor Alliance is a survivor support organisation which unites and empowers modern slavery survivors to become leaders of the anti-trafficking movement. They provide Ally Training for organisations looking to engage survivors and have developed Survivor Engagement Resources, which provide information on how to engage survivors effectively and ethically, as well as guidance on implementing a trauma-informed training programme.

TC Online Institute

TC Online Institute is the world’s first survivor-led Human Trafficking detection, compliance and risk assessment centre. The institute is powered by Timea’s Cause Inc. and was founded by international award-winning survivor educator, Timea E. Nagy.

Financial institutions can access survivor-led training and resources, including:

  • Human Trafficking detection training.
  • Project-based private consulting.
  • Customised employment training.
  • Human Trafficking literary resources.
  • Compliance and risk assessment consulting.

Training is also offered to service providers and frontline workers within survivor support organisations, outlining key principles such as the victimhood mindset, the stages of healing and trauma-informed care.

Ensuring fair compensation for survivors

Providing fair compensation for survivors is fundamental to promoting wider engagement and ensuring that survivor participation is empowering and inclusive.

Paying the Living Wage

To aid in healing and to provide inclusivity, survivors must be appropriately paid, using the London Living Wage or Living Wage in the U.S., as a baseline to calculate salaries and payments. This helps to ensure autonomy and greater independence whilst supporting their healing.

Covering Expenses

Covering expenses that may otherwise limit a survivor from participating is important for survivor inclusion and can help to overcome barriers that survivors face.

Financial institutions should help to cover payments such as:

  • Childcare.
  • Travel costs.
  • Accommodation costs.

Expenses should be paid in advance, rather than expecting individuals to pay and be reimbursed, to provide security and maintain financial stability.

Safeguarding wellbeing

Whilst involving survivors within programme development, it is crucial to safeguard their wellbeing and provide a supportive environment.

This should include:

  • Creating a trauma-informed environment.
  • Only asking questions that need to be asked.
  • Providing training to support survivors and ensure they are equipped to participate as an equal.
  • Delegating a sufficient amount of time for a survivor to carry out their work and understanding that due to the need for training, extra time may be expected.
  • Acknowledging the intersectional vulnerabilities that an individual may be facing.

For more information on trauma-informed care and adopting an intersectional approach, click the button below.

Safeguarding employees working with survivors

It is essential that financial industry professionals working with survivors, who are at risk of being exposed to traumatic events, narratives or stories, are also safeguarded to limit secondary trauma or “professional burnout”. This requires checking in with employees and ensuring they are safe and well.

When involving survivors in the development of survivor financial empowerment programmes, ensure that employees have completed training on trauma-informed work and that they have access to further support, for survivors and themselves, should it be required.

Find out more about working with survivors in Employee Training & Protecting Vulnerable Customers.

Summary: Important guidance

  1. Engage with established survivor support organisations and/or survivor consultancy groups to ensure survivor involvement in the development of survivor banking initiatives.
  2. Make sure to provide fair compensation for survivors, using the London Living Wage or Living Wage in the U.S., as a baseline to calculate salaries and payments.
  3. Include survivors early and often and empower them to lead.
  4. Create space and provide training for survivors and employees to amplify the positive impact of survivor involvement.
  5. Provide ongoing support to prevent re-traumatisation and safeguard employees who are working with survivors.

Where to next?



1728 1017 TRIBE Survivor Financial Empowerment Hub
Survivor financial empowerment hub

Survivor financial empowerment hub

1728 785 TRIBE Survivor Financial Empowerment Hub
Key Actions: Understanding the challenge

Key Actions: Understanding the challenge

1080 1080 TRIBE Survivor Financial Empowerment Hub
2560 1707 TRIBE Survivor Financial Empowerment Hub
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