Eight things we learnt about modern slavery from Truro Diocese’s recent webinar

17th October 2022

The Clewer Initiative

Anti Slavery Day advice video

Caroline Virgo, director of The Clewer Initiative, recently took part in a webinar with Bev Faull (Devon and Cornwall Police), Andy Earl (Assistant Diocesan Safeguarding Officer, Truro Diocese) and Rebecca Evans (Ministry and Parish Development Officer, Truro Diocese) about modern slavery in Cornwall and preparing for Anti-Slavery Day.

The webinar covered common misconceptions about modern slavery; the support and advice available to churches in Cornwall; reasons why victims don’t always come forward for help; barriers to reporting and safeguarding pathways.

Watch the full 15-minute webinar or read our summary below of key points:

  1. Fighting modern slavery requires a long-term approach – The Clewer Initiative was initially set up for three years, but its work has been extended because the need to raise awareness and support churches in victim identification is so great
  2. It won’t happen in my community – many people might think that Cornwall is a “sleepy county” where nothing sinister happens. They might not imagine people trapped in slavery because there are no big cities or obvious signs of victims. In fact, modern slavery is in every community and victims can be found in the farming, fishing or food processing industries and businesses such as hand car washes.
  3. Modern slavery affects UK nationals as well as internationals. Victims can be male and female, of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds
  4. The Clewer Initiative can help churches RECCOGNISE the signs of modern slavery, before pursuing the other safeguarding stages: RECOGNISE, RESPOND, REFER, RECORD
  5. Victims often don’t come forward themselves. There can be a lot of shame related to being a victim of exploitation plus the fear of deportation or letting family members down. Victims don’t always realise they are victims or know that help is available.
  6. We need to encourage people to be “active bystanders” – asking questions in a supportive way and being curious. This is not being judgmental or interfering. It is being a good neighbour and friend.
  7. Concerns that are raised will be treated extremely sensitively and confidentially. You can even call Crimestoppers anonymously if you are worried about being identified.
  8. Anti-Slavery Day on Tuesday 18th October is marked by organisations, churches, communities, and businesses across the country. There are lots of things you can do in your community to join the fight against slavery.

Why not take the opportunity this week to commit to three anti-slavery actions as part of The Clewer Initiative’s Make It Slavery Free campaign? This could involve signing up for modern slavery training, downloading some posters to display in your church or ensuring you are clear on safeguarding policies for your church social action project.

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