A key part of our work is to raise awareness of the existence of modern slavery in our communities and help people to find ways of responding. It is estimated that there are over 130,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK today and with a large percentage of those in London and the south-east it is fair to assume that there will be victims in every parish in our Diocese.
Bishop Alastair Redfern who is Chair of The Clewer Initiative, the Church of England’s response to modern slavery, says
“We believe that the tools already exist within the local community to end modern slavery and that the Church, which is present in all communities and at the heart of many, has a primary responsibility in leading these efforts”
That is each one of us!
Signs of slavery: what might I see?
These a just a few of the signs of slavery happening all around us, right here, right now:
At a carwash
- Workers don’t have the right clothing
- No eye contact, no conversation
- Appear under the control of others
- Look malnourished
In a nail bar
- Look out for things that don’t seem right, including very low prices.
- Do the staff speak English? Can you communicate with them?
- Is there someone (often a man) who seems to be dominating and telling them what to do?
- Is it cash only?
On a construction site
- Workers being collected and dropped off on a regular basis early in the morning or late at night in a crowded minibus with other workers.
- Evidence that they live on the site.
- No suitable protective clothing or other proper safety equipment.
- Don’t relate to others on the site.
In my neighbourhood
Is there work being done to a house?
- Look for the same signs as on a construction site
- Do the workers look frightened and hesitant to talk to strangers?
- Do they look malnourished or show signs of physical abuse with untreated injuries?
Are there several people going in and out of a house?
- Are they mainly men?
- Do the people who live there appear to be young women?
- Is the activity around the house mainly at night?
Whether you are employing someone through an agency, getting work done on your home or church or buying a service – if the price seems too good to be true it probably is and someone is suffering.
What do I do if I suspect something?
If there is an emergency and someone is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate call 999.
Call CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111.
If you need advice or support on a modern slavery issue then you can call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. It operates 24 hour a day, 365 days a year.
If your church is affected in any way notify your Parish Safeguarding Officer.
If you would like to report any non-emergency suspicious activity in your local area then you can call your local police on 101 or go to your local police station.
If you want to learn more, you can contact Chris Elliott, Diocesan Modern Slavery Advisor.