For a number of years, the Bishop of Derby has been actively working to end slavery through his role in the House of Lords and also locally in Derby Diocese. Through his work on the draft Modern Slavery Bill and the consequent landmark legislation Modern Slavery Act 2015, the value of partnerships between external agencies and the Church to eradicate slavery became apparent.
After the success of the first human trafficking summit in Derby in 2014, the Derby and Derbyshire Modern Slavery Partnership was established and the Diocese now has a place at the table, the only faith group. Through Bishop Alastair’s leadership the local authorities realised that the Church is quite a tour de force, having established relationships with a cross range of organisations that the councils and police could not cultivate easily. The Diocese made an offer of support to those who are paid and legally responsible for eradicating slavery, one based on loving the stranger with no strings attached.
Derby Diocese now have a strong working relationship with Derbyshire Police, Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council who value assistance based on compassion and social conscience rather than statutory obligation. Parishes across the Diocese help through prayer and hosting awareness raising events that include everyone, not just churchgoers. The Mothers’ Union has taken on the need for supplies for victims by fundraising and producing emergency packs. This came from a conversation with the lead police officer who wanted the victims in his station to have dignity and feel that they were safe, but time pressures meant that his officers couldn’t go shopping to the local supermarket after a raid. Through the local voluntary sector and a church based charity which works with sex workers, a pilot project was established to see how best to look after victims whilst they were deciding on their own future. Creating a safe space is one of Derby Diocese’s potential offers.
Derby Human Trafficking Summit
Derby & Derbyshire Modern Slavery Partnership established
Signing of Modern Slavery Act
Launch of material to raise awareness
Chesterfield Modern Slavery Conference
Freedom Week: raising awareness event takes place in Derby
Modern Slavery advent services released
Responding to Modern Slavery course run by Bishop of Derby and Derbyshire Modern Slavery Partnership
Modern Slavery Children's Summit held at Derby Cathedral
Freedom Week: Chain of light and training for Derby based business.
Strong and local leadership
To get things moving and provide an initial rush of energy, a strong leader makes a big difference. In Derby’s case, Bishop Alastair Redfern, their diocesan bishop, has brought both expertise and influence. Through his involvement in the legislative committee for the Modern Slavery Act of 2015, he brought insight about the effects of the new act back to Derby. Locally, he used his influence to bring people together. Whether they worked for the local authority or led Derby-based businesses, Bishop Alastair’s leadership got them in the room.
Key people in the room
Having the right people in the room is the first step to change. Key to turning the tide against modern slavery is working in partnership. The police, local authorities, faith communities, and the public need to be involved but those in the room must be invested in the issue and seeking to bring change. This may mean working outside their job description, or reaching out to different groups. In Derby, a core group of 5-6 engaged individuals emerged from the initially much larger group. That core group developed personal relationships built on respect that made working together much easier. A mutual understanding of their goals meant they could work more effectively once they began to take their message out into the community.
Educating the public about modern slavery is important, but it is difficult to start from scratch. In Derby, local cases of modern slavery had brought the issue to light. This existing awareness meant that the diocese could depend on support from parishes and the cathedral that provided resources to get the project off the ground. The diocese invested in raising awareness, finding ways to bring the issue of modern slavery into the life of the church. Freedom Sunday, an ecumenical event, was extended to become Freedom Week, with events throughout the diocese. Conferences were held at the Cathedral, and the partnership hosted regular events throughout the year to engage new audiences with the issue.
Those regular events were key to making sure the project didn’t come to a standstill. They helped to build relationships, and they drew in new audiences and avenues for partnerships. For example, a children’s summit at the beginning of 2017 brought together several primary schools from the diocese to learn about modern slavery. The speakers were drawn from a variety of sources: city and county councils, a local historical organisation, and the University of Derby, with Bishop Alastair hosting. Each child who attended now knows the facts about modern slavery, and doors have been opened for further work with their schools.
A local approach to tackling modern slavery will always be just that: local. Every partnership will look different, and produce different results. But these four key features may help when considering where your diocese should begin.