Following a case of human trafficking and child exploitation in Rochdale in 2012, the former Bishop of Derby, Rt Rev’d Alastair Redfern, addressed the issue in the House of Lords and began work on a draft of the Modern Slavery Bill for Parliament.
Alongside this national engagement, the Diocese of Derby began a pattern of partnerships at a local level. This early work laid the foundations of the community resilience-based model which The Clewer Initiative now facilitates nationally.
Derby Diocese have a long-standing relationship with Derbyshire Police, Derby City Council, and Derbyshire County Council, who value assistance based on compassion and social conscience rather than statutory obligation. Parishes across the diocese help through prayer and hosting awareness raising events which include everyone, not just churchgoers. The Mothers’ Union has taken on the job of providing supplies for victims, by fundraising and producing emergency packs. Through the local voluntary sector and a church-based charity which works with sex workers, a pilot project was established to see how best to look after victims whilst they were deciding on their own future.
Following his retirement, Bishop Alastair became Chair of Trustees of The Clewer Initiative, and the diocesan link with this modern slavery work has been taken forward by Rachael Brooks.
Involvement from the start
To get things moving and provide an initial rush of energy, a strong leader makes a big difference. In Derby’s case, Bishop Alastair Redfern, the former diocesan bishop, brought both expertise and influence. Through his involvement in the legislative committee for the Modern Slavery Act 2015, he brought insights about the effects of the new law back to Derby. Locally, he used his influence to bring people together..
Educating the public about modern slavery is important, but it is difficult to start from scratch. In Derby, local cases of modern slavery had brought the issue to light. This existing awareness meant that the diocese could depend on support from parishes and the cathedral, who provided resources which helped get the project off the ground. The diocese invested in raising awareness, finding ways to bring the issue of modern slavery into the life of the church. Freedom Sunday, an ecumenical event, was extended to become Freedom Week, with events held throughout the diocese. Conferences were held at the Cathedral, and the partnership hosted regular events throughout the year to engage new audiences.
Key people in the room
Having the right people in the room is the first step to change. Central to turning the tide against modern slavery is working in partnership. The police, local authorities, faith communities, and the public need to be involved, but those in the room must be invested in the issue. In Derby, a core group of 5-6 engaged individuals emerged. This core group developed personal relationships built on respect, which made collaboration much easier. A mutual understanding of goals meant they could work more effectively once they began to take their message out into the community.
Drawing in new audiences and looking to the future
Seeking out new opportunities is central to engaging different audiences and new avenues for partnerships. For example, a children’s summit at the beginning of 2017 brought together several primary schools from the diocese to learn about modern slavery. The speakers were drawn from a variety of sources: city and county councils, a local historical organisation, and the University of Derby, with Bishop Alastair hosting. Each child who attended now knows the facts about modern slavery.
Going forward, the diocese are scoping new pieces of work, including further work with children and foreign language resources for English as a second language speakers.