What would a Slavery-Free City look like? Nottingham is trying to find out, with the help of the University of Nottingham, local police and councils, the voluntary sector, and of course the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. On the 18th October 2016 and 20 October 2017, alongside other organisations, the diocese made a pledge to make the city and county a slavery-free community.
The work of combating modern slavery continues to grow locally and nationally through different partnerships the Diocese is involved with (both the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Strategic Partnership with police, statutory and non statutory organisations as well as the Nottingham Modern Slavery Forum for frontline workers and charities). The Diocese is also working with the University and Nottingham Citizens to plan and coordinate events to raise awareness.
The Diocese has been actively involved elsewhere, holding Faith and Freedom workshops in conjunction with the Salvation Army and University. At the workshops they have hosted people from different faith communities and social justice projects like food banks and night shelters. Together they have explored the reality of modern slavery and asked whether they could have come into contact with it.
Through the Slavery-Free City initiative, they also hope to engage businesses and local people and encourage them to ask what they could do to end slavery in their city. The diocese intentionally works with Hot Food Provider networks, Soup Runs, Homeless Shelters, Food Banks via training and information packs on want to do and who to contact when they suspect or someone discloses being trafficked. The Clewer Initiative’s Credit Card sized leaflets have proved invaluable and welcomed by all. The Diocese continues to raise the profile of issues of modern slavery in churches on Freedom Sunday in October each year.
The Diocese and other organisations make a city-wide pledge to make Nottingham slavery free.
A prayer event about modern slavery held in Derby Cathedral, in collaboration with the diocese of Lichfield and Derby. Prayer stations around the cathedral encouraged prayer for the issue.
The City and the County join together to make a pledge to make the whole of Nottinghamshire slavery free.
Two Faith and Freedom events bringing together faith groups and frontline workers to learn about modern slavery
A Faith and Freedom event in Mansfield for volunteers from soup runs, food banks, night shelters and drop in centres
Both frontline and strategic
Across the city centre of Nottingham there is an Anti-Slavery Partnership, designed to bring together different organisations such as the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, police, the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, the county and borough councils, and a couple of frontline agencies in a strategic way. But there is also a Modern Slavery Forum which is just for frontline charities and outreach centres, to share information about what is happening on the ground.
A Study in PArtnership
The University of Nottingham has established a huge amount of work on studying modern slavery, creating their multi-disciplinary Rights Lab to encourage innovation from their staff and students. This proactive approach hasn’t stopped at the gates of the University, instead their study of modern slavery has enriched the partnership working going on in the city itself. The Diocese is working closely with the University and is extremely grateful to university staff for their support and dedication.
giving people the tools
Through the parish system the Church of England is in every neighbourhood. This gives the Church a responsibility but also an opportunity – to learn the signs of modern slavery and act on it when we see it. In their work in the Diocese, the team in Southwell and Nottingham are aiming to give people the tools to recognise modern slavery and to know who to call or how to act on their suspicions or concerns.
Recent cases that have come to light in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham have shown a culture of indifference that allows modern slavery to flourish. Local people may have seen signs that point to a crime going on, but rather than report it, they have turned a blind eye under the excuse that it was nothing to do with them. Through exposing the horror of modern slavery, the Diocese hopes to challenge these kind of attitudes.
Stories from southwell and nottingham
Revd Liam O’Boyle
Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, Jubilee House, Westgate, Southwell,