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Echoes of Empowerment: The Voice of Domestic Workers Chronicles 2023

In a year marked by resilience and determination, The Voice of Domestic Workers (VODW) has been a beacon for migrant domestic workers, advocating tirelessly for our rights and amplifying our voices. As we reflect on the past year, we capture the essence of VODW's impactful initiatives, media presence, community outreach, and the remarkable rescue of 57 migrant domestic workers – a testament to the organisation’s commitment to justice and empowerment.

VODW's journey throughout 2023 has been shaped by compassion and a deep commitment to supporting vulnerable communities. From organising a heartwarming Christmas Carol event to providing warmth and sustenance to those without homes, VODW's dedication to making a positive impact is evident.The organisation reached new heights in shedding light on the challenges faced by migrant domestic workers. Collaborations with renowned journalists, such as Simon Israel of Channel 4 News, led to viral reports with millions of views. Subsequent coverage by BBC News One further emphasised the urgency of addressing the abuse faced by migrant domestic workers in private households.

Having endured slavery and abuse from my previous employer, the unwavering support of the voice of the domestic worker community in London has been my anchor, guiding me through the intricate journey of rebuilding my life.
Together, we redefine the concept of family, a bond formed not by blood but by shared experiences and genuine compassion. - Jean

VODW's workshops became a platform for empowerment, with the Future Voices Network undergoing media training and refining their messaging.

Being undocumented for how many years is not easy, but with the help of VODW, I now have ‘leave to remain’ status. I could walk freely without fear.  I’m gaining back my self-confidence. I am one of the participants of Future Voices 2 to be a spokesperson for the voiceless abused migrant domestic workers. - Arlyn

Themes like 'Women Behind Closed Doors' and collaborations with UCL showcased the organisation’s dedication to amplifying the voices of domestic workers through various mediums.

The Voice of Domestic Workers gave me the life-changing opportunity to help my dreams achieve a better future. Being a domestic worker, allowing us to attend the workshops for health and safety like with the UCL gives us more knowledge to prevent accidents and injuries. - Danah

Throughout the year, VODW continued to empower its members through a range of educational initiatives. Classes covering English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), financial coaching, information technology, and body, mind, and wellness not only equipped domestic workers with practical skills but also fostered a sense of community and mutual support.

The Voice of Domestic Workers has helped me gain a clear vision of my identity and future goals. The biggest advantages of being a part of VODW is the excellent range of classes they offer. The classes have been extremely helpful in improving my language skills, equipped me with the computer and software knowledge needed to succeed in today's digital world, provided me with the tools to maintain my physical and mental well-being and taught me how to effectively communicate and market myself. Without VODW’S support, I would not have the confidence and the skills needed to take control of my life and my future. I was in the Parliament twice this January lobbying for our rights to be reinstated, it was my proudest moment to be the voice for me and for my fellow domestic workers. - Mary

VODW celebrated a significant victory in the removal of the 'Family Member Exemption' from the National Minimum Wage Regulations. This success, alongside the "Our Home, Our Vote" campaign in collaboration with the Migrant Democracy Project, exemplifies VODW's commitment to addressing systemic issues that impact migrant domestic workers. On International Migrants Day 2023, VODW proudly celebrated one of its trustees, Mimi Jalmasco, being recognised as an ambassador of IOM-UK. This acknowledgement aligns with the broader theme of the day – 'I am a Migrant,' highlighting the importance of recognising and honouring the contributions of migrants. In a remarkable achievement, VODW played a crucial role in the rescue of 57 migrant domestic workers throughout the year.

VODW is my first family here in London. Being with my fellow domestic workers is heart warming comfort. I accessed the classes which helped me upgrade my skills and improved my confidence. As a live-in domestic worker, I am being empowered to be able to assert and stand- up for my rights. - Fahima

Grateful to be a member of The Voice of Domestic Workers. I have put my wall of fears down and started opening my doors to a new chapter after recovering from my traumatic experience. The significance of PTSD assessment and counselling lies in acknowledging and addressing the impact of trauma on my well-being. Through this process, I can work towards healing, regain control over my life, and find the necessary support to navigate the challenges stemming from my past experiences. Attending classes online and every Sunday is a big help in improving my self-confidence and gaining knowledge and skills. - Leslie

These rescues not only underscore the urgency of addressing exploitation but also reflect the organisation’s dedication to direct action for the well-being of those in need.

As I reflect on The Voice of Domestic Workers' journey through the challenges and triumphs of 2023, our unwavering commitment to justice, equality, and the empowerment of migrant domestic workers is truly inspiring. The echoes of empowerment we’ve created resonate far beyond the confines of the year, leaving a lasting impact on the lives of those we advocate for and support. It's heartening to witness such dedication and positive change.  Here's to a continued legacy of making a difference in 2024 and beyond!   - Mimi Jalmasco, trustee       

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