Working together to end slavery in Merseyside

On a sunny day at the end of November, 50 people from across the Diocese of Liverpool came together in Liverpool Cathedral to hear more about modern slavery, and what organisations across the area are doing to stop it.

This was the beginning of our participatory approach to working with a diocese – helping them to draw together expertise and learning from different sectors. We were joined by representatives from the police, local councils, the church, and charities including the Medaille Trust and the British Red Cross.

When organising the event, Revd Christel Erving, the Anti-Trafficking Project Coordinator for the Diocese of Liverpool, said she found the event helpful for a few different reasons.

The idea was it’s a kind of mapping exercise, scoping out what excellent work is already taking place in the Liverpool city region. It had become quite apparent in the conversations I had had with people that there was lots of excellent work [going on] but it really wasn’t very joined up. So it was about getting all of those people in the room together and getting people talking.
— Christel Erving
Canon Ellen Loudon welcomes everyone to the workshop

Canon Ellen Loudon welcomes everyone to the workshop

Canon Dr Ellen Loudon began the event with a welcome from herself and Bishop Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, who acknowledged the involvement Liverpool had in the historic slave trade. According to Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum, during the Transatlantic Slave Trade nearly 1.5 million Africans were forcibly transported on Liverpool ships, and over 5,000 slaving voyages started from the city.

The Diocese is engaging with this history through a project called The Triangle of Hope, an initiative run by Canon Malcolm Rogers who gave a presentation at the workshop. He explained that the Triangle of Hope is a joint project with Liverpool’s partner dioceses in the USA and Ghana. It aims to encourage young people in particular to reflect on each dioceses’ involvement in the slave trade, and promote wider learning.

There were also presentations from Phil from City Hearts, a charity that looks after survivors of modern slavery, and Dr Alison Gardner from the University of Nottingham, who filled everyone in on the current situation of modern slavery in Merseyside, and guided the rest of the session. As well as getting everyone talking, over the course of the afternoon we were aiming to discover what was already going on in the area, and what gaps still needed to be filled.

The areas of modern slavery provision that need to be looked after.

The areas of modern slavery provision that need to be looked after.

The participants were invited to reflect on four different areas of work around modern slavery: Prevention, Discovery, Recovery, and Sustainability. Each of those areas contain their own unique challenges, and would need to be explored and developed to make Liverpool a slavery-free city.

One gap that Christel saw was a focal point for people and organisations to gather around, and move conversations on. During her research into modern slavery provision she heard that previously there had been a Modern Slavery Network, but a lack of momentum had led to it disbanding. She is now looking at resurrecting the network, possibly alongside a database of projects and contact details, to enable more collaborative working.

Reflecting on feedback from the day, Christel said it had been a “resounding success - a crucial step towards greater collaboration”. We agree, and we’re looking forward to working with the Diocese of Liverpool on their response to modern slavery, and making a big difference to victims of modern slavery in Merseyside.

Find out more about our work across the Church of England on our Dioceses page.