Kerry is joining us from STN Trust in Norwich where she has been working on the issue of modern slavery for some time.
Hi Kerry! So, tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you and what do you do?
I am a mum of three children, and a wife to Ben. We live in Norwich, and are members of St Thomas Church in Norwich, where I have been working for just over four years leading their charity - STN Trust. We care for people with different needs and vulnerabilities, they may have come through modern slavery, or homelessness, or they could be asylum seekers. We also have been leading strategically on building a partnership in Norfolk as a response to modern slavery.
My background is in education. I was a Primary School teacher, and then I went into school leadership and the advisory service. Then I had a few years at home as a full time mum with my three children.
How did you originally get involved with STN Trust?
STN Trust was borne out of a charity called Help which responded to modern slavery and human trafficking. We work with an organisation called Big Life in Kolkata and initially I was invited to explore the possibility of opening up an aftercare home for victims who had been rescued there.
We started looking at preventative work, and a team from St Thomas’ Church went to visit rural villages to try and find patterns. The team came back reporting a stark absence of teenage girls in the villages. That led to us developing a simple story book called Sajil’s story which we’ve piloted in villages south of Kolkata. The story is a tool to begin conversations and raise awareness about the risks that face young people when they go to the cities to find work.
A few years later we moved from Help to STN Trust. We also developed a response to local issues of slavery as well as global needs.
Do you think the Church has an important role to play in this area?
Absolutely. The church is seen by so many as a place of sanctuary. We’ve seen people come to the church as the place to escape from dangerous situations. We had a lady come from London - she just got off the train and arrived in Norwich with absolutely nothing, no handbag, nothing, and the place she looked to for sanctuary was the church.
And also we bring God’s strength, none of what we hope and aspire to do in response to modern slavery is going to be achieved without God’s strength.
You’re obviously very passionate about being part of the church and your work, but what else in your life are you interested in?
I am very passionate about my children and young people. I love seeing life through their eyes, I love their humour, and the sense of fun and play. I was actually talking with my boys this morning about the amount of sleep that adults need and children need, and how children have playtimes and will go out and run around and play. We came to the conclusion that actually it would be great if adults had that too. We would probably function much better if we all went outside and ran around for half and hour!
I also love sports. I particularly like running, I do triathlons, but running is my real space with God. A time that I pray most and feel closest to God. I like to plan runs around the city, then I will pray for particular spaces or buildings where things have happened, I find that a really good way to remember to pray as opposed to thinking about my legs hurting!
What made you want to work for The Clewer Initiative? And what are you most excited or nervous about as you come to join us?
I have a strong sense of calling into working on modern slavery. I’m passionate about responding to all areas of the issue but particularly I’m interested in the work that surrounds the idea of ending it, preventing it happening in the first place, and protecting those who are vulnerable to it. I think it does make me nervous how big the role is. I’m leaping into the unknown as well, it’s very different from what I’m doing, and I’ll be moving away from a close knit team.
Is there anything we can pray about for you as you join the team?
I think prayer for the change in role, for us as a family, for that period of transition. Prayer not to feel overwhelmed when everything is new, and prayer to keep pressing into God and to hear his voice over everything. And it’s a real change in focus from a local to a bigger national perspective, that can feel a little bit overwhelming, when you’re going from a team and city that you know well to new territory and new people and new spaces and new teams… so prayer to draw on God’s strength through that.