With the UK in lockdown once again and COVID-19 still devastating global supply chains, it is more important than ever to work out what this means for victims of modern slavery. The impact of the pandemic has not been evenly distributed and often those already disadvantaged in society have suffered the most.
Some organisations believe the pandemic has made it more difficult for people caught up in modern slavery to come forward, others have reported that survivors already in the care of the state have experienced difficulties in receiving basic support to rebuild their lives. One thing we know for sure is that the pandemic has affected the wider structures and safety nets for the most disadvantaged, including women, children and migrant workers.
For this reason, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is commissioning 11 research projects which will explore the effects of the pandemic on systems and structures associated with modern slavery and associated practices. This includes both the effects of the pandemic and the responses to it by governments, businesses, and organisations, that can affect people’s vulnerability to exploitation and the systems underpinning exploitative practices.
The projects were announced by the AHRC-supported Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) and mark a major milestone for the publicly funded centre, which was created to transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to address modern slavery.
Many of the projects focus on analysing various aspects of the impact of COVID-19 on global supply chains. Two projects look more specifically at the situation of workers in the UK. One analyses the situation of seasonal migrant workers from Romania in the British agriculture industry amid the pandemic. Another applies new technologies to establish the location of informal workplaces in the UK and the situation in the informal economy evolving during the pandemic.
All projects have a common focus - to inform policies addressing modern slavery and exploitative practices, develop practical recommendations to decision-makers on how to mitigate the risks brought by COVID-19, and ‘build back better’ after it.
To find out more about the 11 projects, click here