It’s Lent, the time of year when we give up our favourite treats, snacks, or activities for forty days, testing our self-discipline and resolve.
This Lent we’re asking you to do something different. Instead of giving up your favourite treat, we want you to give up slavery.
Slavery is an illegal business, the world’s second most profitable after drug trafficking, but the goods that slaves make and the services they provide can be found on our high streets.
Over the course of Lent, each week we will introduce you to one industry that is touched by slavery. We’ll give you a story to read and a simple action to take in response. You can then take it further with a second action that will help you to dig even deeper into the issue.
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Story: Nails bars and hand car washes are two industries in the UK where modern slavery is suspected to occur regularly. You can read about nail bars with Kate from Unseen and a report from Thomson Reuters about hand car washes.
Action: Learn to spot the signs of modern slavery by going to the Spot the Signs page on The Clewer
Initiative website. It you're more of a visual learner, you can also watch a video from the Salvation Army.
Take it further: Print out or make yourself a credit card sized leaflet to go in your wallet, with the signs of slavery and the Modern Slavery Helpline number. You can find one on the resources page of The Clewer Initiative’s website.
Story: Watch this report from Sky News about child labour being used for cobalt mining. Cobalt is used to make batteries for mobile phones and laptops. The video will give you an insight into just how complex technology supply chains are.
Action: We're going to take another look at Modern Slavery Statements this week. This time, find out what your phone manufacturer is doing to prevent slavery in their supply chain by looking at their Modern Slavery Statement. Send them (or us!) an email if you have any questions.
Take it further: What other gadgets do you have? A TV? A laptop? Make a list of all the gadgets you have in your home and who makes them. Pick one and see if they are listed on the Ethical Consumer product guide. How do they measure up?
Story: Read this article about women in Colombia who pick flowers for British shops and supermarkets. A little closer to home, you can read about the tactics the GLAA use to protect flower pickers in the UK.
Action: It’s Mothers’ Day and International Women's Day this week! Track down some ethical flowers for your mum or a lovely lady in your life who you would like to bless. Take a look at this guide from The Good Shopping Guide to see how different companies measure up.
Take it further: Take a photo of your happy flower recipient with their flowers. Post it on social media and include a message about where you got the flowers. (Don’t forget to ask them first and include #GiveUpSlavery).
Story: Watch the trailer for True Cost, a film about the garment industry. If you have time, you can watch the full film on Netflix, or rent or buy it from the True Cost website or Amazon.
Act: Share the trailer on social media* along with your thoughts and ask your friends what they think the answers are to some of the questions posed in the video. Do we think about the ‘true cost’ of our clothes? Don't forget to include #GiveUpSlavery in your post.
Take it further: Buying second hand clothes is one way to get off the fast fashion bandwagon. So why not take the charity shop challenge? Go to a charity shop and find yourself an outfit of clothes. We would love to see a photo of your outfit!
*If you don't use social media, why not email or message a friend with the trailer and ask them their thoughts on it? Or watch the film together with your friends or family.
Story: This week we're learning about whether there is modern slavery in UK agriculture and what it looks like. Start by reading this article about chicken catchers who were exploited in Kent. Or you can watch the video if you prefer.
Act: It's time to take the conversation offline. Invite friends round for dinner and talk about exploitation in farming and what they think it looks like. You can use these questions as prompts if you like.
Take it further: Read the Modern Slavery Statement* of the supermarket you use most regularly. Their statement should be prominently displayed on their website. If you can't find it or don’t understand the terms they use, send them an email and ask them some questions about it.
*A Modern Slavery Statement is a document that every company in the UK with a turnover of £36 million or more has to write. It should say where they think the risks of modern slavery are in their business, and what they are doing (or not doing!) to combat that risk.
Story: Read this article, or watch the video from CNN about tea production in India.
Act: Check if your favourite brand of tea or coffee is ethically sourced. If it isn’t, send them an email and ask why, and how they protect the workers who make their tea.
Take it further: Go to your favourite café and ask if their tea and coffee is ethically sourced. If not, why not?
Lent starts in a week's time, so it's time to prepare for your #GiveUpSlavery challenge! Watch the video to see what you should be doing, and click the links to get started!