Leading modern slavery charity Hestia teams up with uTalk to launch ‘Project Freepost HESTIA’ requesting public’s old mobiles

Hundreds of adults and dependent children to gain access to free language learning on smartphones helping them re-integrate into society

More than a thousand victims of modern slavery now living in Britain are being thrown a crucial lifeline involving a mobile phone and a cutting-edge language-learning app.

The new project helps vulnerable members of this growing community to re-integrate into society by learning English from their mother tongues, which include Albanian, Vietnamese and Chinese Mandarin.

Hestia’s Modern Slavery Response Team Area Manager, Ella Read, says:

“This initiative represents a crucial lifeline to many of the modern-slavery victims we support on a daily basis. Access to a second-hand smartphone can transform their lives. Many of these victims can’t speak English. To rebuild their lives, it is vital for them to learn.”

The project, launched during World Refugee Week 2019 (June 17-23), has three partners: Hestia, uTalk, … and thirdly, the general public.

Victims of slavery are often traumatised, isolated and disorientated when they turn to the authorities for help. Victims can struggle with confidence issues and can’t cope with some daily tasks that others take for granted. For example, having access to learning basic English on a smartphone helps victims read public transport and road signs, get through a supermarket checkout and make friends at their local community centre.

Mastering key words and phrases can also help them communicate with their GP, talk to their local authority about housing support, or discuss legal aid with a solicitor.  
Now Hestia and uTalk are launching a new scheme through the Royal Mail allowing you to donate your old, unwanted smartphone by post free of charge.

According to a survey by top accountants Deloitte, four out of every five adults in the UK now owns a smartphone – that’s 37 million of us. Many people buy a new phone every year, or have unused phones lying around at home.

If you own an old smartphone, all you have to do is pop it in an envelope and address it to “Hestia, Maya House, 134-138 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1LB.” For UK only, add Freepost HESTIA on the front of the envelope for free postage. Correctly labelled packages can be posted at a post office or in a letter box.

Mobiles must be smartphones, cleared of personal data, be ‘network-unlocked’ with no passcode, be in working condition and come with a charger.

Hestia will support around 1,600 adults and children in safe houses and other premises this year, a figure sadly growing by 30 per cent annually. Modern slavery victims in Hestia’s care come from over 70 countries, with Albanian, Vietnamese and Chinese Mandarin being among the main languages spoken.

uTalk is donating free licences for its language learning app to victims because “we want to help people who have had so much taken away from them”.

Patrick Ryan, Hestia CEO said: 

“We are extremely pleased to partner with uTalk to provide life-changing opportunities to survivors of Modern Slavery. Most of us know what it can feel like to be in a strange place and not speak the language. Victims of trafficking are abused and tortured without anyone to ask for help and often without the words and language to do so. After the trauma of being silenced by their traffickers, this partnership will empower survivors by giving them a practical tool to enable them to rebuild their lives and to communicate with others by learning English.”

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