Lent is a time of year when the Christian community pauses to reflect on what we have and how we can help others as well as remembering our Saviour’s journey to the cross. Over the last couple of years, The Clewer Initiative has produced a Lent Resource which has been widely used by churches and individuals. In 2020, we launched the County Lines Lent Resource and in 2021, the Women in the Shadows Lent resource.
This year we are focusing on Children in the Shadows. Week-by-week, we explore the various forms of child exploitation in the UK and overseas, the scale of the abuse, some of the push factors and the need for us all to increase our awareness and effective response.
We have included contributions and insight from practitioners working in the areas of child trafficking, exploitation and safeguarding. This includes Ben Lindsay (the founder of Power The Fight), Becky Lewis, the Strategic Safeguarding and Quality Assurance Service Manager at Bristol City Council, Bill Crooks and Fiona Kendall of FCEI-Mediterranean Hope and the team at Hestia. Some of their reflections come in the form of short one minute film clips to inspire and guide discussion.
Why zoom in on children?
There are many reasons why we have chosen to reflect upon Children in the Shadows. Firstly, when people consider modern slavery, they might not usually picture children and young people. The general public is usually more familiar with the concept of adults labouring in car washes or fields, women being sexually exploited or adults being smuggled across the Channel in lorries.
Secondly, the data shows that child exploitation, particularly county lines, is rocketing in the UK and the pandemic has not, in any way, slowed its growth. As a society, we need to get to grips with this terrible phenomenon and begin to make strides in tackling it and protecting vulnerable children.
Finally, the subject is relevant to everyone. We all have a part to play in the protection of children. This is not just the responsibility of parents – a community response is required.
Furthermore, we believe the church has a pivotal role to play in supporting the creation of these more resilient and healthy communities where all children can grow and develop in safety. It is also in a key position in terms of identifying children in its orbit that are being exploited or who may be susceptible to exploitation.
We pray that through Children in the Shadows increasing numbers of engaged communities will see the urgent priority of reaching out to and protecting children from exploitation.
To find out more about Children in the Shadows or to download the course material, visit https://theclewerinitiative.or...