The Blackburn Story

The Diocese of Blackburn are founding members of the Pan-Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnership.

Key Contact: Joy Rushton


The diocese’s hope is to encourage parishes to get involved in identifying victims, with the Pan-Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnership (PLASP) supporting training and awareness raising initiatives.

The Diocese of Blackburn covers most of Lancashire, including Morecambe Bay, where the Cockle Picker tragedy occurred in 2004. The tragedy ushered in a new wave of understanding in the UK, as the authorities began to realise how many workers were being exploited below the surface of the labour market..

Driven by partnership and ecumenism

The Pan-Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnership, @PLASPsupport, brings together a number of statutory agencies, faith groups, NGOs, and law enforcement bodies. PLASP is divided into subgroups on Training, Policies and Procedures, Faith, Victim Support and Publicity. They develop materials and protocols, including safeguarding guidance, and they seek to spread a consistent message across the county.

The diocese are also involved with the local social action and modern slavery work of Churches Together in Lancashire and the Mothers’ Union.

The Freedom Bus

One of the most exciting elements of the Partnership’s work is its roadshows. The PLASP Freedom Bus is a school bus during the week, and is used for events and roadshows at weekends. It tours from town to town and city to city, parking up in populated urban centres to stand as a powerful physical presence, alerting all who see it to the urgency of modern slavery. The bus itself is covered with the name and phone number of the Modern Slavery Helpline. Evidence suggests that wherever the bus has been, reporting increases – a testament to the success of the project.

Tailoring training

PLASP has developed statutory training, using a lunch and learn model, and encouraging one person from each agency to come and the report back to their department. This sits alongside a longer in-depth training, which gives trainees more detail about modern slavery. All of the training has been contextualised for Lancashire. PLASP have used The Clewer Initiative’s training for the voluntary sector.

Tackling the issues

According to police intelligence, sexual exploitation, forced labour and cannabis factories are the three biggest areas of trafficking in Lancashire . The partnership shares widely what the signs are to look out for, and runs a regular newsletter to keep people up to date with what is going on, and encourage them to join in. It is already reaping dividends as numbers of people reporting are on the up.

Rev Anton Muller from Churches Together Lancashire shares why he is getting involved in modern slavery activism

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DOB 20 Words

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