The Diocese of London work through their Compassionate Communities team, to raise awareness of modern slavery, and identify and support victims.
Modern slavery is a key part of Compassionate Communities’ six work streams, and they are supporting the diocese’s episcopal areas in addressing modern slavery at the parish level. Many of the capital’s churches are working to address modern slavery through their own networks, and a number of projects are already underway, including the Tamar project at All Souls, Langham Place, which supports trafficked women.
A unique challenge
As the nation’s capital and biggest city, there are a huge number of modern slavery victims passing through London, either on the way to be exploited somewhere else, or as an end-point for their exploitation.
In response to this challenge, Bishop Sarah established the Bishop’s Modern Slavery Task Group, which originally ran from 2019 to 2021. The group is ecumenical by design, and brings together a range of bodies. The initial work done by the group was a springboard for much of the work currently underway in the diocese.
Raising awareness in the nation’s capital
In early 2021, the Diocese held a series of Hidden Voices training sessions in partnership with The Clewer Initiative, to help empower people to identify and respond to cases of modern slavery in their local areas. The Diocese is also working closely with Hestia, who are running a pilot victim support project in a church in the borough of Hounslow.
For Anti-Slavery Day 2021, Hestia hosted an ‘Art is Freedom’ exhibition outside St Paul’s Cathedral, displaying artwork created in the Hounslow church project, by survivors of slavery .
As Bishop Sarah explained when she announced the Diocese of London’s 2019 Lent Appeal for Modern Slavery:
There are at least 40 million victims of modern day slavery in the world today, and tens of thousands in the UK. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, in a capital city heralded for its history and culture, modern slavery is thriving. Thousands are forced into domestic servitude, forced labour or sexual exploitation in plain sight of Londoners, and many more are at risk of falling through the cracks, hidden from the view of the authorities, charities and the church. Behind those statistics there are real people. Whether it be a woman or girl trafficked to work in the illegal sex trade, a man forced to work on a construction site or a child married against their will, none are free.
The Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London
Well-attended events and training
The diocese regularly runs a variety of events on modern slavery, with the aim that with each event the message reaches ever further. Examples include:
- · A training evening for those running winter night shelters, including a talk from The Passage’s Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator, Júlia Tomás, about modern slavery and homelessness.
- An evening to explore what modern slavery looks like in London, and how churches in the capital can help end it, particularly during Lent.
- In 2019, the Bishop of London launched her Lent Appeal in aid of five London-based modern slavery charities.
- The diocese ran a series of well attended online Hidden Voices sessions during the Covid-19 lockdown.
- For Anti-Slavery Day 2021, Hestia’s ‘Art is Freedom’ exhibition was displayed outside St Paul’s Cathedral and in Paternoster Square for a week, attracting a large number of people.
Piloting pre-NRM victim support with The Clewer Initiative
The diocese is also one of the pilot diocese’s for The Clewer Initiative’s victim support project, which aims to provide immediate emergency support to victims of modern slavery, particularly those who do not want to enter the NRM. One of the approaches to this project will be training volunteers in foodbanks to identify potential victims.