On Thursday 11th May 2017, The Clewer Initiative held their first national day for those from the Church of England and other faith communities working against modern slavery. Representatives from 32 different dioceses, as well as from the Jewish community and ecumenical organisations, met together at Lambeth Palace for a day of learning and discussion.
The day was envisaged as an opportunity to introduce The Clewer Initiative and learn more about what the Church and its partners are already doing to tackle modern slavery.
The day began with a reflection from the Bishop of Derby, Bishop Alastair Redfern, who encouraged the room to reject “the globalisation of indifference”, which has left many vulnerable to modern slavery. This was followed by Dr Alison Gardner of the University of Nottingham, who spoke about her research into the role of faith organisations in Modern Slavery Partnerships. Michelle Collins, who represents Derbyshire County Council on the Derby and Derbyshire Modern Slavery Partnership, took the floor next. She was able to give an account of how their partnership has worked and the challenges and successes they have had along the way.
"The Derby experience was inspirational and seeing how others speak and respond to their local challenges [was] useful."
This sharing of practical experience was built into the day, with participants having time to discuss their own context and learn from others. They were also asked to prioritise modern slavery issues based on their knowledge of their local area. The results from that exercise showed very clearly how complex an issue modern slavery is, with each group choosing different priorities.
In the afternoon, participants were asked to think about the communications resources they might need for their context, through an exercise involving lots of post-its! The results from this crowd-sourced collection of ideas will be used to determine The Clewer Initiative’s priorities in producing resources over the next few months.
In the penultimate session, the groups were asked to use their local knowledge to think about how The Clewer Initiative could mobilise dioceses to be a catalyst for parishes to engage with modern slavery. This is a big question, the answers to which will fuel the team’s thinking for their next phase of work. A question and answer session, with final thoughts from Bishop Alastair, ended the day.
"It was great to hear about others’ contexts and how this Initiative might look in these different contexts."
The feedback from the day was positive, with many saying they had found the story of the work in Derby particularly inspiring. True success however, will be hearing about all the new relationships and projects which have come out of the day.