The Worcester story

The Diocese of Worcester has been addressing modern slavery for a number of years.

Key Contact: Steph Joiner

Email: steph_joiner@outlook.com

Key Contact: Stephen Edwards

Email: StephenEdwards@worcestercathedral.org.uk

In the eleventh century, St Wulfstan, the Bishop of Worcester, led a successful campaign to end the slave trade from Bristol.

The Diocese of Worcester’s anti-slavery inheritance continues to this day, as it seeks to raise awareness of modern slavery throughout the diocese’s communities. The diocese covers the county of Worcestershire, with both rural areas and market towns, along with the Borough of Dudley in the urban Black Country.

Delivering successful training and events

The diocese has delivered a range of training and events, focussed on raising awareness of modern slavery and equipping participants with the knowledge needed to take action. This includes holding a well-attended modern slavery conference in 2018, as well as delivering ‘what is modern slavery’ and ‘spot the signs’ training sessions. I also wondered about the focus on rural and not urban?

Modern Slavery Awareness Week

In 2021, Worcester Cathedral devoted a full week to intensively raising awareness of modern slavery. The week included a variety of events, including:

  • A discussion led by Simon John, a supporter of Anti-Slavery International and global secretary of the Rotarian Action Group Against Slavery on ‘A Christian Consumer’s Response to Modern Slavery’
  • An online prayer group, led by members of the Mothers' Union
  • A Sunday sermon on modern slavery from Bishop Alastair Redfern, Chair of Trustees of The Clewer Initiative
  • A talk from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) about the methodology of modern slavery (recruitment, control, and the difficulties that victims have in being identified), what signs to look for in business and in rural communities, how to manage and be aware of the potential risk to agricultural businesses, and what we can do collectively as a community.

Working to engage rural and urban communities

Agriculture is a key industry in rural Worcestershire. The diocese and cathedral have worked to engage young farmers on the issue of rural slavery, focussing activities around the County Harvest Festival. In 2021, the cathedral set up a stall and handed out leaflets to publicise The Clewer Initiative’s Farm Work Welfare App and rural slavery.

The diocese is also working to engage its urban communities. The 2018 modern slavery conference was held in Wordsley, and included awareness raising around illegal money lending and loan sharks. The diocese has also encouraged people to use The Clewer Initiative’s Safe Car Wash app.

Deeply rooted in prayer

The Diocese of Worcester’s core vision is to ‘grow as Kingdom People’, with churches that transform their communities. A key part of this vision is for the diocese to be ‘deeply rooted in prayer’, a belief which is carried through into the diocese’s work around modern slavery. A group from the diocese meets regularly to pray for the victims of modern slavery, as well as those working to address it.

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