The Guildford story

The Diocese of Guildford is working in partnership with the police, other statutory agencies, the University of Surrey, and the wider voluntary sector to raise awareness of where and how modern slavery is operating in the diocese. It shares ways in which churches can respond to the hidden nature of slavery, in order to help eradicate the exploitation of all people made in the image of God.

Key Contact: Allison Sutcliffe


The vision of the Diocese of Guildford is Transforming Churches, Transforming Lives.

Goal 6 of that vision is ‘Cultivating community partnerships’ – reaching out to local communities and being a church that doesn’t just work in and on itself, but actively seeks to ‘help create a safer, stronger, fairer and more sustainable society’.

The Diocese is following the call of Jesus when he urged his followers in Matthew 5 to be salt and light in the world.

Its work on modern slavery very much continues this vision, as it raises awareness about the issue and builds partnerships with local charities, the police, councils, and academia. The Diocese wants to see more people being made aware of modern slavery and understanding that it is present in the Guildford area. But more than that, it hopes people will join them in reporting their concerns and bringing more victims of modern slavery into the light.

Revd Victoria Ashdown shares why the Diocese of Guildford is committed to raising awareness of modern slavery

Key Features

Modern slavery happens everywhere

The Diocese of Guildford covers Surrey and North East Hampshire and is seen as an area of overriding affluence, although there are pockets of real disadvantage. The reality of struggling to make ends meet when there is such affluence around you can make life harder in some ways. The team is keen to help local people understand that modern slavery can take place anywhere and that anyone can be at risk of exploitation. Affluence doesn’t immunise the area from modern slavery. In actual fact it may be a driving factor of exploitation, with the presence of in-house servants, who could be victims of domestic servitude. Modern slavery is also present in the service industry including nail bars, car washes and restaurants as well as construction sites.

Who are the victims?

In 2017, Surrey Police found 51 potential victims of modern slavery in the area. They were from 14 different countries, spread across three continents, but the majority – 21 of the 51 – were from the UK. The diocese believes that for many people the perception of the victims is that they are from overseas, and they don’t understand that British nationals, particularly young people, are trafficked up and down the country for the purpose of exploitation.

A hub of connections

While many people have lived in the Diocese of Guildford all their lives, the diocese also has an ever-flowing stream of people moving through, mainly due to local transport connections and easy reach of London. The M3, M25, and the A3 are easily accessible within the diocese and the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth, together with Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, are close by. Aware that 50% of trafficked people pass through London, these transport links could translate to a flow of trafficking victims moving through the county.

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