We asked them some questions to find out more…
When did you first become aware of the problem of Modern Slavery in your area and why did you decide to take action ?
Last year our church signed up to run a Hidden Voices group. As the course progressed I conducted a lot of research on The Clewer Initiative Website and other websites and was shocked at the scale of the problem. I made it my mission to try and do something about it. It was clear we had to get out into the wider community and raise awareness of what was happening all around us.
Tell us about some of the work you have carried out in Somerset over the past year:
With the help of another lady from the group, we produced a small booklet and started contacting other local groups to raise awareness. To begin with, I met with the local mayor and was put in touch with a local town councillor who had written an article on Bridgwater being the first town in the country to petition the government against the slave trade in 1785. After that we gained support from the local town council and as a group, spoke at the Town Council Development meeting alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner.
How is the work progressing and what are your plans for the future?
Along with a couple of other members and local residents, we are planning a County Lines street awareness campaign. We hope to speak to parents to raise awareness of County Lines and help them spot danger signs and keep their children safe. The town councillors are keen to get involved and I hope to use their local knowledge to assist with the project.
During COVID, the Bridgwater Together group held a couple of online events and we were asked to take part. We spoke at the virtual events and I was contacted by the team leader of the Village Agents and had the opportunity to present to her team via zoom. The village agents are a group with provide support to the local community in Somerset and we now have an ongoing relationship with them.
Moving forward, I would like to get many more local companies to sign up to an Anti-Slavery Business Pledge. This is something we have spoken about but has been put on hold because of COVID and other things that are going on.
How has Hidden Voices equipped you to take action against Modern Slavery within your community?
The Hidden Voices Course was really good at inspiring and equipping us. I have also spent many hours on the Clewer Website and have used the resources available there as well as the County Lines resource.
It is encouraging to see how this group’s work has evolved since they participated in Hidden Voices and how they have demonstrated resilience and adaptability in continuing to advocate for those affected by modern slavery within their community. If you would like to find out more about Hidden Voices or how you can take action in your local community, visit our training and resources webpages, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.