Chris Elliott, the Modern Slavery Advisor for Southwark Diocese, explains how the modern slavery activism in the Diocese emerged: “The Diocese had historically pioneered some brilliant social justice work in South London but I felt that the Southern end of our Diocese, Surrey, was a totally different context with different partners such as Surrey Police, Surrey County Council and the Surrey and Sussex NHS. I could see that it was important we developed a collective approach in Surrey to issues of social justice. At that point, I was mainly thinking about knife crime. I didn’t know much about modern slavery until I met someone at Surrey Police who literally changed the course of my life! She opened my eyes to the issues of modern slavery, that it does happen in Surrey and that there are things we can do that make a difference.”
Chris established the Reigate Archdeaconry Social Justice Focus
(RASJF) in 2019 and set the goal of talking to every church in the Archdeaconry about social justice issues. The group wanted to highlight issues surrounding youth violence, county lines, domestic abuse, teenage mental health and modern slavery but it quickly became clear that this was far too ambitious. They decided to prioritise county lines and modern slavery action. Chris joined the Surrey Anti-Slavery Partnership (of which he is now the co-chair) and became the Modern Slavery Advisor to the Diocese.