In an era where it seems there are awareness raising days for everything – stuffed mushrooms (4th February), batteries (18th February) and napping (12th March) to name just a few – it can be easy to become cynical about their value. But used wisely, they can be a positive force in raising awareness about modern slavery.
One strength is they help people to feel like they are part of a bigger movement for change. Charities and the government will often choose to release new information or resources to coincide with them, so modern slavery may be in the news and higher in people’s consciousness as a result.
Here are a collection of modern slavery related days that could be useful for you as you plan your awareness raising activities for 2019.
11th January – Human Trafficking Awareness Day
In the United States, the whole month of January is set aside to raise awareness of human trafficking, with the 11th January being the biggest day. Although this commemoration is limited to North America, because so much of our media (both media outlets and social media) is influenced by the states, you might find that there is a lot of reporting around this date.
Suggestion: Why not promote the Safe Car Wash App in your church or community?
8th February - Feast day of St Josephine Bakhita
In the Catholic Church Calendar, the 8th February is the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita. Born in 1869 in Sudan, St Josephine was kidnapped and sold into slavery as an 8 year old. Her conversion to Catholicism in Italy as an adult led to her being freed. You can read more about her story and find resources to use to commemorate it on the Santa Marta Group’s website.
14th March – My Freedom Day
The news network CNN has an annual day of reporting on modern slavery called My Freedom Day. They have lots of videos and news reports about modern slavery around the world available from their website.
Suggestion: Here’s a video you could play in your church or share on social media to spread the word.
12th June - World Day Against Child Labour
The International Labour Organisation have initiated this day for campaigning against child labour around the world. In the UK in 2017, over a third of the potential victims of modern slavery found by police and support agencies were under-18. We have created a whole raft of resources to use with children. There are lesson plans and collective worship materials, both of which can be easily adapted for using in a Sunday School or youth group.
Suggestion: Use our collective worship materials with your Sunday School or youth group
30th July - world day against trafficking in persons
This international UN day of awareness often results in a large amount of reporting from news outlets, and is a great day to use to raise awareness in your church and community. It also coincides with the Anglican feast day of anti-slavery campaigners William Wilberforce, Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson.
Suggestion: Why not use some of our resources such as posters, sermon guides and prayer cards to continue the work of those campaigners and help your congregation learn more about modern forms of slavery? Find them all on our Resources page.
18th October – UK Anti-Trafficking Day
This is the UK’s biggest anti-trafficking commemoration. You will often see a lot of events in this week, and it usually coincides with A21’s Walk for Freedom. We suggest using Freedom Sunday resources on the Sunday closest to UK Anti-Trafficking Day. You can see all the Freedom Sunday packs here.
Suggestion: Organise an event in your area to raise awareness about modern slavery. Get inspired by reading about what was planned for 2018 in one of our partner dioceses.
2nd December - International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
Another UN day, this one marks the date of adoption of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, which was signed in 1949. This is a good day to talk about the role of governments and bodies like the UN in ending modern slavery. Strong legal protection can both prevent people becoming victims, and protect them from further harm. Why not use this day to ask your MP how they are working for an end to modern slavery?
Suggestion: Homeless people are often at great risk of modern slavery. Watch Charlie’s Story to find out more.
We hope that has given you some inspiration for awareness raising in 2019! Take a look at our resources for more ideas to get your community talking about modern slavery.