Hidden Voices creates impact in Rome

13th July 2023 | Hidden Voices

The Clewer Initiative

Churches Together in Rome – an ecumenical fellowship of English-speaking congregations in Rome – has recently piloted Hidden Voices, prior to its national rollout.

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The new resource has been thoroughly contextualised and translated into Italian so that it can be used by English and Italian-speaking communities.

Caireen Warren, who lives in Rome and is The Clewer Initiative's Diocesan Lead (Italy) for the Diocese in Europe, explains: “At the Diocese in Europe, we are often sent resources from the UK or America which are good but don’t directly apply to our situation in Italy. This can lead to frustration. It is like putting a square peg in a round hole. We were determined we wouldn’t fall into this trap with Hidden Voices. We wanted it to speak into our Italian context so that many people in Italy can be helped through the material.

“The contextualisation process involved talking to many people on the frontline and learning lots about exploitation in different sectors. In Italy, there are many vulnerable people, both of Italian origin and from migrant communities. Modern slavery is prevalent in the agriculture and construction sectors and we also see many people drawn into sexual exploitation. These trends are all reflected in the course content.”


Twelve people attended the course throughout Winter 2022/2023 and provided detailed feedback to help with revisions.

As a result of the course, many of the delegates are now pioneering modern slavery action in their communities. For example, one member has started running modern slavery training in the local Refugee Centre where she volunteers, others have put up awareness posters in Refugee Centres, churches and community centres, providing vital signposting information to both potential victims and volunteers.

Three individual groups are now thinking about appointing a local modern slavery champion in their church, ready to provide support for any victims of modern slavery or people at risk of exploitation and another church is organising an in-person community event about the risk of exploitation to homeless people. These are brilliant examples of the way Hidden Voices encourages people to form action groups and make concrete plans of how they can fight modern slavery in their communities.

Why sign up for Hidden Voices?

When asked why they signed up for Hidden Voices, the delegates gave an array of reasons:

  • “I wanted to learn more how to recognise and help people in need who are trapped in these situations.”
  • “I am involved in accompanying victims of sexual trafficking.”
  • “I am concerned about the prevalence of human exploitation and wanted to learn more about modern slavery.”
  • “Because I believe modern slavery seriously breaches some basic human rights and I know there's a lot of it in this country. I would like to contribute in some small way to trying to eradicate the problem, or at least helping to ease the lives of some of those who are caught up in this issue. I especially want to help at the grass roots level where I believe a lot of good work is being/can be done. I believe that as Christians we are called to look after those less fortunate than ourselves and to contribute to the good of the wider community.”

The Hidden Voices course was very stimulating. The information about modern slavery in Italy was so eye-opening.

Participant on Hidden Voices Rome

National search for Trainers

Caireen says: “Now that the pilot is complete and the material has been translated, we are ready for Hidden Voices to be used across Italy. To achieve this, we need to raise up dozens of trainers who can facilitate Hidden Voices in their community. To become a Hidden Voices trainer, all you need is a heart for the cause and a passion to equip people to fight back. No particular experience is required. We will provide all the training and materials necessary and walk beside you as you learn how to train others. We will be running a "Train the Trainer" course in Autumn 2023. If you would be interested in becoming a trainer for Hidden Voices, please get in touch.

“Also, if you are interested in running a Hidden Voices course in your church or community, please get in touch. It is such a powerful experience to bring together groups of people to discuss how modern slavery manifests itself in Italy and what can be done to tackle it.”

Next steps across Europe

Caroline Virgo, director of The Clewer Initiative, comments: “We have worked closely with The Diocese in Europe to adapt our popular Hidden Voices training course and reflect the unique challenges of modern slavery and exploitation in Italy. This work of taking the general resource and modifying it for a specific country could be replicated elsewhere - please get in touch if you are interested in finding out more.”

Hidden Voices was amazing. I love how we had time to share our ideas.

Participant on Hidden Voices Rome
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What is Hidden Voices?

Hidden Voices is one of the Clewer Initiative’s central pieces of training. It is a brilliant resource which has been designed to help churches and communities respond to modern slavery. It is based on a community resilience approach, which equips participants with the knowledge to understand modern slavery and exploitation; identify and support victims and apply this knowledge to a specific context. It also encourages participants to form action groups and put concrete plans in place.

Hidden Voices is available in Italian and English, and is written in five modules:

- Setting the Scene

- Exploitation in Agriculture and Construction

- Sexual Exploitation and Domestic Servitude

- Prevention

- Action planning

All the modules include biblical reflections and practical tools and activities as well as case studies to help people see how they might already be coming across modern slavery without knowing it.

By the end of Hidden Voices, we hope that individuals and groups will feel inspired to start taking action in their own community. They might not have all the answers, but they will certainly know where to start!

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