Description of the Service

Description of the Service

Name of Service: POPPY Project

Description of the service / The Poppy Project is the sole public funded project providing support and housing for women trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. The Poppy Project has been funded since March 2003 by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform at the Ministry Of Justice, part of the Home office. Since April 2009 the service has been expanded to provide accommodation and support to 54 adult women victims of trafficking at any one time across UK with 40 bed spaces in London, 5 in Cardiff and 9 in Sheffield.The Poppy project houses the women in safe, women-only properties in London, Cardiff and Sheffield and specialist senior support workers provide intensive support which addresses the women’s practical, emotional and psychological needs.
Up to May 2009 the Poppy Project has received 1265 referrals, housed and supported 230 women and has provided outreach support to a further 247 women, all of whom were trafficked into prostitution.
The Poppy Project consists of the Acute service, offering housing and support to women who meet the criteria set by the Home Office. The Outreach service offers short term crisis intervention and support to women who are not accommodated by The Poppy Project. The Outreach Team carries out assessments which help to identify women who may have been trafficked into the UK. The Poppy Project was also funded to run a pilot Labour trafficking project in 2008, which provided housing and support to women who had been trafficked into the UK for labour purposes.
Women accepted onto the project are allocated a Senior Support Worker whom they meet with on a regular basis. Support Workers provide ongoing practical and emotional support, as well as advocacy to enable women to access a wide range of services, including health services, counselling and access to legal advice. The Poppy Project also works with the police, specifically the London Metropolitan Trafficking Team, Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and The Clubs & Vice Unit (CO14), assisting with intelligence, statements and where possible criminal convictions.
How does your service monitor and evaluate its effectiveness and how does it use that information to improve service delivery. / There are a number of assessment stages before a woman is accepted onto the Acute service at the Poppy Project. Initial assessments, based on the above criteria, are made by the Senior Support Worker taking the referral. When a woman is accepted and housed by the Poppy Project, there is a 45day reflection period in which further assessments are made. These assessments are made through an initial needs and risk assessment, and further assessments through keywork meetings with their allocated keyworker (also referred to as Senior Support Worker), using support plans and risk assessments. Mental, sexual and physical health and practical issues such as education, police contact and immigration issues are all covered in the assessment process.
The Poppy Project assessments are carried out using a questionnaire adapted from the one used by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (referred to as LSHTM from here on) and six organisations based throughout Europe that work with victims of Trafficking, including the Poppy Project.[1] This questionnaire was developed in order to gather research for a significant report by Zimmerman, at the LSHTM, entitled, ‘The Health Risks and Consequences of Trafficking in Women and Adolescents’ (2003).[2] This was the first report of its kind to specifically look at the needs of trafficked women. The framework, research strategy, interview tools and analysis drew on the existing conceptual models that examine health in the subject areas of migration, domestic violence, sexual abuse, labour exploitation and women working in prostitution. All these areas of investigation are relevant to this research model, as each are part of the experience of being a victim of trafficking for the purposes of forced prostitution[3].
A subsequent report, ‘Stolen Smiles: A summary on the physical and psychological consequences of women and adolescents trafficked into Europe’ (2006) developed these research methods and re-examined the target group[4]. These key reports focus on psychological, sexual and physical health concerns of trafficked women. They were produced in conjunction with the Senior Support workers at the Poppy Project carrying out detailed assessments over a number of meetings with women on the project.
In addition to the above assessments we also analyse the experiences of women prior to, and since arriving in the UK usingthe Poppy Project’s identification tool kit. This is based on the Anti-Slavery International Protocol for Identification and Assistance of Trafficked Persons and Training Kit, 2005. The purpose of the assessment is to identify the presence of key trafficking indicators during the pre-trafficking history of violence, recruitment, transfer/harboring and exploitation phases as well as to identify physical and psychological symptoms commonly associated with sexual exploitation and/or trauma arising from sexual exploitation. In addition, the POPPY Project draws on our own experience supporting victims of trafficking in assessing whether a victim’s account is consistent with other victim’s experiences and whether we believe this account to be credible.
These two research methods allow us to make thorough assessments of each woman that has come to the project. The Poppy project has adapted the assessment tool as we see fit, and developed it to make it more accessible and user friendly. This is based on over 6 years experience of assessing Poppy service users. Furthermore our assessment is not solely based on what women tell us but also how they present in terms of physical and mental health symptoms which may indicate physical and psychological trauma.[5] Each member of the team is highly skilled in working with victims of trafficking, and health concerns as a result of this.
What type of data does your service collect? / See link on webpage.
How does your data collection benefit your service? / It helps us to identify trends and respond to the needs of service users, as well as develop new services to meet hard to reach groups


  • Service Specification
  • Service Standards
  • Service Level Agreement

[1] LSHTM, 2003, Multi-Country Research and Advocacy Collaboration Promoting the Health of Trafficked Women and Adolescents in Service Settings.

[2] Zimmerman, C, et al. 2003, The Health Risks and Consequences of Trafficking In Women and Adolescents. LSHTM.

[3] Zimmerman, C et al. 2003. P14-16. As above.

[4] Zimmerman, C et al. 2006. Stolen Smiles: A summary report on the physical and psychological consequences of women and adolescents trafficked into Europe. LSHTM.

[5] Bartunkova, Iveta. 2005. Protocol for Identification and Assistance of Trafficked Persons and Training Kit. Anti-Slavery International.