The predominantly rural Diocese of Bath and Wells may not be the most obvious place to look for modern slavery, but it’s clear that no area is immune. Whether in nail bars in the centre of historic Bath, or in the fields of large farms, modern slavery could be lurking around the corner.
The Diocese of Bath and Wells, led by their Mission Team Leader David Maggs, has big plans to get a movement going in their churches and communities to highlight this issue in the future. They have already held events for young people, local residents and civic leaders, and in the future they hope to engage more people from across the diocese.
The diocese is now a member of the Avon and Somerset Anti-Slavery Partnership, and David has been asked to lead the Rural Slavery Sub-Group.
Three events on Anti-Slavery Day, engaging schools, local people, and civic leaders
A Hidden Voices course in Bridgwater, to help churches in the area respond to modern slavery.
Two events on the local picture of modern slavery for sixth form students and local people
A Hidden Voices course in Minehead, to help churches in the area respond to modern slavery.
A service at Bath Abbey to reflect on the relationship between ancient and modern slavery,
Faith and Freedom events to answer the question 'what can the church do about modern slavery'?
a rural diocese
The Diocese of Bath and Wells is a rural diocese and geographically one of the largest in England. Its location and geography bring with them their own set of unique challenges when it comes to mitigating against exploitation and modern slavery. A huge agricultural industry attracts a large number of transient workers, big infrastructure projects bring in even more, and the prevalence of poverty in rural villages and communities can lead to the exploitation of vulnerable people.
Our project lead David is leading on slavery in rural areas for the Avon and Somerset Anti-Slavery Partnership. His learning will feed into our wider network and help other dioceses working on similar issues.
living the story
The diocese has recently developed a new vision: “In response to God’s immense love for us we seek to be God’s people living and telling the story of Jesus.” Their vision informs their work and directs them in their response to serving the different communities of the diocese. The vision and diocesan strategy that is emerging speaks of the story of Jesus; his life, teaching and work, his death and resurrection; the story is the context of their faith and the content of their message. They seek to both live this story as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world and to tell it by sharing the good news, and by the way in which their lives speak about Him.
social justice response
The response to the vision can be illustrated through the social justice work of the diocese. The Diocese of Bath and Wells has two overarching themes which guide its social justice campaigning: seeking 'Justice for the Common Good', and 'Transforming our Communities'. The work encompasses a range of key areas: homelessness, supporting refugees, and tackling modern slavery and exploitation.
Bishop Ruth Worsley
"There are over 45 million people across the world held in modern slavery and in this country tens of thousands. How do we spot signs rather than overlook them and walk past them without seeing? Local churches can be part of the answer: we know people in our communities better than most because we are present amongst them. We can spot the signs of people being exploited and share information with the authorities responsible for tackling the issue. Together we can make an impact on the lives of those affected by exploitation and modern slavery."