Courageous advocates: the Diocese of Derby’s new modern slavery ambassadors

Can one person change the world? That was the question posed by Phil Knight to a group of eight to ten year olds in Derby Cathedral on the afternoon of Wednesday 21st May. Phil, the CEO of Just Enough Group, was there to teach the children about modern slavery.

The 96 pupils from 24 Derbyshire schools had been gathered by Rev Anita Matthews and Alison Brown, Deputy Director of Education for the Diocese of Derby, to become the diocese’s first Modern Slavery Ambassadors.

Just Enough Group is an educational organisation teaching children about tough topics like knife crime, radicalisation, and modern slavery. Phil and the Just Enough team have been working with The Clewer Initiative on how to help young people understand modern slavery. Together we have created lesson plans and collective worship materials to use with 5 to 18 year olds. All of those are available for free from www.modernslaveryeducation.com

In the morning the children had been learning all about the realities of modern slavery. Through a drama, ably coordinated by Phil with the help of some small volunteers, they heard the story of Farmer Bob, his wife Betty, and their daughter Beyonce from Moldova. The family’s farm hadn’t been doing well, then a long lost cousin (Bruce) showed up and gave Bob £1000 to help out. Later he came back and offered to get Beyonce a well paid job in England.

The children watched as Beyonce was forced to work for free, first running round the Cathedral doing everyone’s nails, then washing their cars, until finally she ended up in a family home doing the cooking and cleaning. All this time she hadn’t been allowed to contact her own family, and ‘Bruce’ had held her passport so she couldn’t escape. At the end of the story Phil revealed that this story was true, except the real-life Beyonce was actually called Svetlana, and she was the reason he founded Just Enough, so he could change the world for girls like her. 

Through a fun powerpoint and interactive quizzes, the children heard all about how modern slavery like Svetlana experienced has taken root in society, from the clothes we wear, to the food we eat. Then they were asked, what were they going to do about it?

As the pupils gathered in their school groups ideas buzzed around, from leading a collective worship session for the other year groups in their schools, to getting the parents involved by running a ‘Parent Workshop’. Some focused on fundraising to help organisations working to end modern slavery, while others thought about how to spend their money well, for example by prioritising Fair Trade products. Food was a theme too, with proposals for cake sales and a ‘Slavery Day Menu’ in the school canteen.

At the end of the day the children were presented with Modern Slavery Ambassador wristbands, to encourage them to take up the mantle of ending modern slavery and spreading awareness in their school. If their ideas are put into action, their school will be awarded a ‘Modern Slavery Aware’ plaque, presented by the Diocese of Derby, and made by Design and Technology students from a local Secondary school.

The event was the latest of a series held in the diocese, including an Awareness Raising Conference in January 2017, a Freedom Week collection of assemblies in October 2017, and a roadshow in October 2018. It will be exciting to see how the Ambassador scheme progresses, and what the team in Derby comes up with next!

Why not take a look at our schools resources or see more from the Diocese of Derby. If your diocese’s education team is interested in running a similar event, get in touch.