Prevention is better than the cure is how the saying goes and surely it is no less true for modern slavery. Of course ‘rescuing’ and releasing victims is important, but how much better would it be if they had not been enslaved in the first place?
Three things have become clear to us at The Clewer Initiative recently:
1. We know from the latest figures from the National Crime Agency that British people are hugely at risk of falling prey to modern slavery. The homeless and young people are particularly vulnerable.
2. We also know from the Modern Slavery Helpline’s annual report, which Justine Currell, the director, spoke about at our national network day, that they are seeing an emerging trend of traffickers recruiting from places of worship.
3. Additionally, in our trainings across the country again and again people have told us stories of encounters they have had which - they are only at that moment realising - could have been modern slavery.
The Church of England runs approximately 33,000 social action projects serving vulnerable people in the UK, so it seemed obvious to us that one way to prevent modern slavery would be to raise awareness amongst those who are running and volunteering at those projects. If we could train each and every volunteer to spot the signs of traffickers recruiting from their projects, maybe we could prevent thousands of people from being exploited.
To that end, we worked with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and Helen Styles, one of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisers for the Diocese of Bristol, to develop a Safeguarding and Modern Slavery training. It builds on our online safeguarding courses and starts to look at how social action projects can build in clear pathways for reporting incidences of modern slavery.
Helen and Lys Ford from the GLAA delivered the training in Bristol in June to a group of people volunteering in various capacities in social action projects. They gave us several case studies to work through, all of which could appear in a local community and have outcomes that aren’t necessarily modern slavery. Building on the safeguarding practice of the Church of England, Helen emphasised that it is not our job to investigate whether what we have seen is definitely modern slavery, instead we should be passing on anything that concerns us. What is key is making sure we build modern slavery into our training for social action projects. This makes sure everyone knows the signs, and the reporting lines to follow if they see something that concerns them.
Creating a culture of preventing modern slavery begins with our safeguarding training. Are you confident that you would know what to do if you had concerns about someone in your project? Get in touch with us to find out more about training that is available in your area.