Freedom bus

How to set up an Anti-Slavery Partnership

6th February 2024 | From our team

The Clewer Initiative

In 2017, Sion Hall, a senior detective with the Lancashire Police, was asked by the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office to use his imminent retirement to establish an Anti-Slavery Partnership.

Having worked for 30 years for the police and set up the Human Trafficking Team for the county, Sion felt it was a perfect way to put his skills and experience to good use and work on something he was passionate about.

Sion became the chair of the newly formed Pan Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnership (PLASP) and quickly began drawing in other statutory agencies, NGOs, charities and faith groups to work together. The Clewer Initiative spoke to Sion about his experience of setting up an anti-slavery partnership.

  • What is it like setting up an Anti-Slavery Partnership?

At the beginning, you have a blank canvas. This is exciting and tricky.

  • What is the first thing you should do?

You need to ask yourself “what sort of partnership are you aiming for? Who do you want on the partnership?” Some regions have very strategic partnerships whilst others, like PLASP, have gone for, what I call a “happy mix” of statutory agencies together with grassroots activists and volunteers. I think it is useful to get as many different people around the table as possible and go from there. My vision from the beginning was that we would be all about tangible actions and outcomes.

  • How often do you meet?

Some partnerships meet once a quarter but I felt that for us, monthly is better in order to keep the momentum going. We meet at 10am on a Thursday morning. We have about 125 people on our email list. Usually 15-20 turn up for the monthly meetings but it is often a different group each time. People attend according to the subject / focus of the meeting. For example, if we are doing something on county lines, it appeals to a certain demographic. If we are doing something more relevant to the business community, then those in the partnership from the business world are more likely to attend. Sometimes we create sub groups (task & finish) to look at a particular areas of work.

  • How do you get the right people on the partnership?

It is really important to find the right people. The best members are those who are passionate about fighting modern slavery and often this interest proves more important than the specific role within their organisation. People come and go - they change roles or move location - but it is crucial that you keep networking and developing relationships with the key organisations in the region. The partnership is always evolving and that makes it a very dynamic group to be a part of. At the very first meeting we looked around the table and asked ourselves “who else are we missing? What other groups need to be represented here?” We continue to get new members and organisations, which is amazing.

  • What sort of paperwork do you need to get in place?

Very early on, we created a Terms of Reference. This is a document that I initially drafted and then we discussed and agreed as a group. We continually refresh this Terms of Reference. We are not a legal entity or a charity and as such we don’t have a bank account or trustees and we don’t fundraise. We are a collaboration or collective of like-minded people. As a group we don’t have policies on every area of work as each group or organisation will work to the policies within their own workplaces. Our set up works for us, but other partnerships will operate differently. I think it is essential you have a coordinator or figurehead who will drive the ideas and activities forward. I see this as my role.

PLASP placards
Freedom Bus Leyland 3
Freedom Bus Leyland 2
  • Who pays for the partnership?

How you fund an anti-slavery partnership is one of the most critical questions to answer before launching. Our main cost is paying for my part-time salary. I don’t think my role could be done as a volunteer because I work at least three days a week and it is hard to find someone who can carry out that level of work alongside other commitments. The Police and Crime Commissioner together with Lancashire Police cover our main costs and this makes such a difference as it means we don’t have to worry about our funds all the time. We look for any additional funds for activities etc through our other members such as Caritas or The Clewer Initiative. I don’t think that the funding status affects our independence and in fact, I think there are lots of benefits around accessing suitable resources more easily.

  • Is there anything else you would add about setting up an Anti-Slavery Partnership?

For us, it was important we got the name of the partnership right and came up with an easily identifiable name and logo early on which helps with media and messaging campaigns.

Modern slavery activists discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding partnership working

Sign up for our newsletter

Get regular news and updates straight to your inbox

Sign up now