The Canterbury Story

Key Contact: Jonathan Arnold, Executive Director of the Social Justice Network, Diocese of Canterbury


The Diocese of Canterbury is a highly rural diocese with a continual flow of refugees arriving on its shores. They are working to raise awareness of modern slavery and exploitation, and support refugees.

The Diocese of Canterbury is a largely rural diocese, with some urban areas; it is also on the frontline of the refugee crisis. The diocese is working in a range of areas to address modern slavery and exploitation, and often work in partnership with The Clewer Initiative. A number of initiatives are already underway, including the Stop the Traffik Canterbury and Whitstable Group, which was set up in 2017, and operates out of St Mary Bredin Church. The group organise monthly awareness-raising ‘stunts’ asking the simple question ‘can you see me?’ St Mary Bredin also serves as a safe space for trafficked women.

Awareness raising activities and training

The diocese is working to raise awareness of modern slavery amongst the public, and has organised a range of activities and training courses, including The Clewer Initiative’s Breaking County Lines training and Hidden Voices community mobilisation course. In its role as a megaphone for the diocese, Canterbury Cathedral lit up red for Anti-Slavery Day 2021, sending the powerful message to all passers-by that slavery must stop. It has also actively promoted the Safe Car Wash App and Farm Work Welfare App, helping to raise awareness of and respond to exploitation taking place in the car wash and farming sectors in the UK.

Commitment to supporting refugees

The diocese has a longstanding commitment to supporting the refugees who arrive on its shores, many of whom may be victims of, or vulnerable to, modern slavery and exploitation. The diocese has a refugee officer who works in Calais, as well as a safe house for vulnerable refugees.

Labour exploitation in rural areas

Over a number of years, the Diocese of Canterbury has worked with a range of organisations across the rural sector to deepen their knowledge of the risks and challenges associated with working in this context, particularly when it comes to labour exploitation. In recent years they have worked closely with The Clewer Initiative, holding conferences and other events to bring about increased awareness for modern slavery.

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