2022 priorities blog 1200x768

Our top priority for 2022 - victim support

6th January 2022 | From our team

The Clewer Initiative

As we enter a new year, I know many of us feel a combination of hope and weariness.

Hope that 2022 might pan out differently and better than the last two years but also weariness because of what we have collectively endured.

At The Clewer Initiative, the last two years of lockdowns and restrictions have forced us to work very differently as a team. Many of our training resources and courses have worked brilliantly online and hundreds of people have attended Hidden Voices, Breaking County Lines and Women in the Shadows as virtual courses. We will continue to offer this mixed mode approach – encouraging churches and communities to put on in-person courses when they feel able but also organising online courses too.

Our strategy has always been three-prong:

  1. to raise awareness and mobilise the Church and communities to take action against modern slavery
  2. to promote victim identification
  3. to provide victim care and support.

We believe we have made strides in tackling the first two areas but until recently we have struggled to know how to provide the right type of victim care and support. We don’t want to duplicate what other organisations are doing but we know that the church has a unique position within every community and encounters victims of modern slavery regularly.

As the Church of England’s response to modern slavery we have a responsibility to equip the nation’s churches so they know what to do when they meet a victim of modern slavery and how to provide genuine care and support, particularly to those who choose not to enter or do not meet the threshold for the National Referral Mechanism. We have spent a lot of time over the last year talking to people, churches and organisations and working out how best to provide the relevant support, training and structure for victim support.

We are pleased that we have been able to employ Lys Ford, who previously worked at the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) as their Senior Partnership and Prevention Officer, as a consultant to help us develop robust training, policies and processes for the victim support element of our work.

In 2022, this will be one of our main foci. We will be providing bespoke training for volunteers within social action projects as well as for Parish Safeguarding volunteers, Diocesan Leads and Diocesan Safeguarding officers. We will also be encouraging Dioceses and churches to develop a clear framework, relevant to their group or organisation, so that they know what to do with any concerns they may have, who the Single Point Of Contact is and where to go to for advice.

We will of course continue with our other priorities – watch this space for information about our new Lent 2022 course, updates to the Safe Car Wash app and additions to the popular Women in the Shadows resource.

Faced with the enormity of the task of eliminating modern slavery, it is easy to feel daunted. But we press on, remembering the words of this famous hymn:

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender;
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender.
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing;
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.

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