Stretching from the Welsh border to the Peak District, and from north Staffordshire to the Black Country, the Diocese of Lichfield is one of the largest in the Church of England, serving just over two million people in 1,744 square miles.
It has almost 600 churches, over 420 parishes and over 200 schools. Due to the size of the Diocese, we are working with two charities to help parishes learn about modern slavery. These are Transforming Communities Together (TCT) - a joint venture between us and the Church Urban Fund - and Saltbox in the North of the Diocese.
First meeting of the Wolverhampton Anti-Slavery Partnership (WASP)
Sandwell Anti-Slavery Conference takes place including local government and faith groups
Training with Romanian Big Issue sellers to help them protect themselves from exploitation
Modern Slavery Awareness Training with a street sex workers drop-in
Modern Slavery Awareness Training with Chaplains from the Black Country Urban Industrial Mission
Hidden Voices course in Stafford, helping communities respond to modern slavery
Wolverhampton Modern Slavery Awareness Training, for churches and drop-ins
Supporting Diocese of Worcester Modern Slavery Awareness event
The work of WASP featured in the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner's report on anti-slavery partnerships
Modern Slavery Awareness Training with foodbank volunteers in Walsall and Near Neighbours volunteers
Bishop Michael Ipgrave
"The Church is in a unique place to play a key role in setting people free from slavery - literally in this case - by working more closely with others. It is a privilege to be at the centre of this important project that will help local churches support victims and identify signs of exploitation in the communities they are at the heart of.”
Key features of our work
The mission of our diocese
The mission and ministry of the Diocese is focused around the three key areas of Discipleship, Vocation and Evangelism – following Christ in the footsteps of the first bishop of Lichfield, St Chad, who lived in our area in the 7th century. Our work on modern slavery builds on the Diocese's established five mission themes, which includes ‘Transforming Communities’ - encountering the risen Christ leads to change and hope, and leads on to care for people and the world around us.
Working in partnership
One of our key areas of engagement is with Wolverhampton Anti-Slavery Partnership (WASP), where TCT is Vice Chair. WASP is a multi-agency partnership chaired by West Midlands Police. The overarching aim of WASP is to identify and support victims of modern slavery in a multi-agency and collaborative way and to identify and seek to bring offenders to justice. The Partnership includes practitioners from the third sector, faith groups, law enforcement and statutory partners including City of Wolverhampton Council, NCA, HMRC, DWP, Hope For Justice, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
The aims of WASP
WASP has 3 main aims:
* Raising grassroots awareness
* Increasing support for victims
* Sharing intelligence and concerns about modern slavery
Churches and faith groups can and do help with fulfilling all of these aims. We have particularly focused our attention on training people in churches who work with at-risk groups like the homeless and sex workers.
sharing our learning
Under the ‘Liberate’ banner, this model of Anti-Slavery partnerships work is now being replicated across the West Midlands Police seven force areas. TCT is working in neighbouring areas and with neighbouring Dioceses to support their work and network to share learning. The WASP model was also featured in a report on anti-slavery partnerships produced by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
David Primrose, Diocese of Lichfield Director of TCT
"When churches are close to the ground, and listening to their local communities, then with basic information we can spot signs of possible trafficking and alert the appropriate authorities.”