The Diocese of Exeter, or the Church of England in Devon, is working through their joint venture with Church Urban Fund - Transforming Plymouth Together - on a whole range of injustice issues.
One of those issues is modern slavery. One of the things that they have done to learn more about the issue, and how it is being tackled in their area, is joining Safer Plymouth, an organisation that brings together local authority, police, and other agencies within the city, specifically to talk about modern slavery. The partnership also includes the voluntary sector and the faith sector, both to raise awareness but also to find answers to the question most often posed by those who learn about this crime: what can we do?
A series of events around ‘Freedom Week’ including awareness raising in the city centre and a walk for freedom.
Two evening events exploring Hidden Voices, a community response to modern slavery.
A joint Hidden Voices facilitators’ course for the Dioceses of Exeter and Truro. Held at Buckfast Abbey in Devon.
prayer and action
The Diocese are keen for people to pray about modern slavery: for the victims and for those helping to stop it. But they are keen that people pray in an informed way, intentionally, earnestly and directly. But Christians and people of faith also need to be aware that they could come across modern slavery in their daily life, and know how to act when they do. Finally, how are people of faith reducing the risk of modern slavery through the goods they buy and the questions they ask about those goods?
a local problem
Chris, who is running the project in the Diocese, is keen for people to understand that modern slavery is a local problem, not something that only happens in big cities. When speaking to local people he cites one case in Plymouth that involved five Romanians who were trafficking people from Romania over to Plymouth to work illegally and against their will. This understanding that modern slavery can happen in their town, or on their street, is growing.
different partnerships forming
Transforming Plymouth Together are part of both Safer Plymouth and the local Anti-Slavery Partnership, which both bring together statutory sectors and law enforcement. They are also keen to engage ecumenically, and have formed a group with local churches. It began as a round table conversation, and is still in the early stages, but they are already bringing together diverse denominations with different expertise and outlooks on the city.
a group effort
Transforming Plymouth Together want people to work together on this issue, and not leave it done to a few groups or individuals. They see their role as one of engaging, enabling, and encouraging. Speaking on this topic, Chris, who runs TPT, said he wanted people to know that he can’t do it all himself! Instead he needs everyone to get involved: “You can empower yourself and God can empower you to get out and engage with the community on social action issues. And to support the city.”
Stories from exeter
Call Chris: 07710 096210
St Mark's Church,
1 Sanctuary Close,
Plymouth PL2 1EN