The Diocese of Carlisle covers a large geographical area, with huge rural areas and small communities. High-profile cases of modern slavery in Carlisle and Barrow have brought attention to the issue, as have concerns around human trafficking in the Lake District.
Much of the diocese’s anti-slavery work is coordinated by Churches Together in Cumbria. The diocese also work closely with the Diocese of Blackburn and the Pan-Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnership (PLASP), as well as the local police via the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Churches as places of refuge
A network of churches in the Diocese of Carlisle operate as places of refuge. When potential victims of modern slavery are rescued they are taken to church premises, where they are cared for. One story of a man found in a port in Workington demonstrates the importance of this for victims of modern slavery. When the man was found he had recently escaped a situation of exploitative labour, and did not know where he was; he was taken into a local church and cared for.
Using the Safe Car Wash App
The diocese have encouraged people to use The Clewer Initiative’s Safe Car Wash App. One major success story comes from Carlisle, where someone who had found out about the app from a poster noticed concerning practices at a hand car wash. Following a report, the police identified that the car wash was being run by a gang who were exploiting Romanian workers, and the car wash was closed down.
Engaging the community through poster campaigns
The diocese arranged for 5,000 copies of The Clewer Initiative’s posters to be put up in churches, on village noticeboards, and at doctors’ surgeries, as well as other public places. This approach has enabled the diocese to reach a large number of people.
Working with Churches Together in Cumbria
The diocese works closely with Churches Together in Cumbria. CTIC’s work against modern slavery includes running a Modern Slavery Conference in 2019, helping to organise ‘starter bags’ for victims of modern slavery in partnership the Soroptimists and the Police and Crime Commissioner, and raising awareness across Cumbria.