Friday links: Partnership working in Sandwell, an unwanted Christmas gift, and child labour makes chocolate

Every Friday we share the latest news on modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK. Keep up to date by following us on twitter (@theclewer) or Facebook, where we will share the article each week, or sign up to our monthly newsletter

Tackling modern slavery and human trafficking in Sandwell

Last week Sandwell Council held a modern slavery and human trafficking conference, to highlight the issue to their staff and partners. Our Project Lead for the Diocese of Lichfield, James Henderson was there and sent us his thoughts on the day. 

"Sandwell is one of four areas that make up the Black Country, part of the West Midlands. Modern Slavery rates are high in the area, due to good transport links and relatively cheap accommodation. Sandwell Council drew together a number of partners including public bodies, law enforcement, charities and faith groups to increase awareness of this complex problem and explore solutions. It was an excellent day that was well attended by about 100 people. The need for training faith groups and food banks was identified, which we hope to follow up with partners soon."

An Unwanted Christmas Gift

The Snowdrop Project supports survivors of modern slavery in Sheffield. In this honest and heartbreaking blog they talk about the challenges of supporting people when their request for asylum is refused. It's a stark reminder that just because a victim of slavery has been 'rescued', it doesn't mean their difficulties are over. 

From a support perspective it’s one of the hardest things to provide empowering support, when somebody has had a refusal. They see it as a denial of their experiences. It’s hard to instil hope when the decision letters are so crude.
— Neelam, a Senior Caseworker at the Snowdrop Project

'My captors took everything, my job gives me a future'

A more positive story of a survivor who is now working for the Co-op through their Bright Futures project. In collaboration with City Hearts, the Co-op set up the project to give survivors stable employment which could be adapted to their often complex needs. 

Giving survivors a job is an absolute game changer. They learn to dream again, to see in to a future. That future was once taken from them. It’s the best feeling in the world when they tell me they’ve done the most normal things like go for a drink with a colleague. For someone who’s had to learn to trust all over again, that’s huge.
— Kirsty, Support Worker

Newcastle and Gateshead charity bags slavery arrests

Six people have been arrested in the North East after raids by police on what is reported to be a Lithuanian organised crime gang. They had been exploiting people by employing them to collect and sort charity bags in Newcastle and Gateshead, and controlling their wages and benefits. 12 victims are reported to have been safeguarded. 

We do not believe that any of the charities involved would know that those collecting their bags were potentially victims of modern day slavery and human trafficking.
— Supt Steve Barron

From bean to bar

An investigation by the Financial Times into child labour in chocolate production. They follow a brand called Tony’s Chocolonely, who are on a mission to stamp out child labour in chocolate production. 

The changes happened partly because of consumer pressure from the cocoa beans’ end users: the people who buy chocolate bars. In order to please their customers, international chocolate companies such as Nestlé, Barry Callebaut and Mars partnered with local cocoa farmers’ co-operatives and certification agencies such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance to try to eliminate child labour from their supply chains.

That's it from us this week. Keep up to date with us the rest of the week by following us on twitter (@theclewer) or Facebook, where we will share the article each week, or sign up to our monthly newsletter.

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash