On Saturday 21st January 2017 Portsmouth Diocese hosted its first modern slavery awareness raising day.
The day began with a viewing of a video of the historic moment when 39 religious leaders signed the Joint Declaration of Religious leaders Against Modern Slavery in December 2014.
That moment of collaboration set the tone for a day of discussions around two key questions, which had originally been posed by Bishop Alastair Redfern at the Lambeth Modern Slavery Consultation in November 2016:
• How should we respond to modern slavery as individuals?
• How should we respond as a diocese?
To give the local context, members of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Modern Slavery Partnership spoke about their specific organisational responsibilities and engagement within this complex agenda. They included Stop the Traffik, Hampshire Police, the MP for Portsmouth South Flick Drummond, Caritas Westminster and Barnardo’s. The day also provided the first platform of introduction for The Clewer Initiative – a new Church of England project devoted to modern slavery.
A networking lunch enabled further engagement with other affiliated charities; Caritas Portsmouth, Medaille, Love 146, and Soroptimist International.
The day closed with a candle lit act of worship in St Thomas’ Chapel, emphasising the global context of modern slavery, with St Josephine Bakhita as a point of reflection and focus.
The Diocese of Portsmouth will hold in focus Archbishop Justin Welby’s practical goals in shaping the way forward:
• We can make sure that every worshipping community knows about modern slavery and is ready to work to prevent it and put an end to these abuses.
• We can look at our own actions and choices as consumers and users of financial services, whose managers can put great pressure on companies in which they invest.
• We can make sure those who have been enslaved and trafficked are supported, respected and welcomed into community.
• We can work with the business sector across the globe to ensure robust systems for slave-free supply chains.
• We can reinforce the ties of friendship and trust among ourselves and with those who profess faith and those who do not, who share the commitment to end slavery.