Lent: the journey begins

As we recall the horror of Jesus’ final day, we also reflect on the journey that many victims of modern slavery face today.

Consider… The Stations of the Cross

We start our Lent pilgrimage thinking about Pilate’s sentencing of Jesus. Nobody speaks up for Jesus. Nobody defends him. He is unjustly condemned to die.

Jesus is mocked, spat upon and struck. The soldiers make him carry a cross to the place of the Skull. The cross is heavy and Jesus becomes weak, almost ready to faint. No one helps Jesus. He faces the agony of crucifixion alone.

Stations of the cross in blue 1
Stations of the cross in blue 2
Stations of the cross in blue 3

Watch The Journey Begins

Film questions

- How did Mihail’s journey begin? How was he condemned to slavery?

- What did the people around Mihail notice when he fell under the burden of his cross? How did they help him change the direction of his journey?

- Read Matthew 4:1-11(the Gospel reading for next Sunday)

- What temptations might you need to confront to get your modern slavery journey more aligned to God’s call? (for example, the temptation to look for quick fixes, dramatic victories, or an easy path)

- What small steps could you take in response to what you’ve seen and discussed?

Consider… The Contemporary Stations of the Cross

  • What do these contemporary stations communicate about how it feels to be a victim of modern slavery?
  • How does slavery often begin?
  • What sort of people do criminal gangs usually target?
Contemporary 1
Contemporary 2
Contemporary 3b

Gracious God, as we open our eyes to the cruel judgements and burdens which entrap so many of our sisters and brothers, give us the courage to look deeply and notice the cries for help, and to commit ourselves to respond with love and practical support. Through him, who came to lighten every burden, Jesus Christ, our Saviour.


Next steps on your journey

Three ways to deepen your understanding of modern slavery and raise awareness in your community:

  • Sign up for one of The Clewer Initiative’s one-off seminars. We have a selection of free online courses which focus on different aspects of modern slavery, or are designed for different audiences. For example, we have County Lines seminars for teachers, foster parents and grandparents, or seminars about identifying modern slavery for people involved in social action projects.
  • Spread the word! Put up posters about spotting the signs of modern slavery in shared spaces such as your local library, swimming pool and church hall. https://theclewerinitiative.org/resources/awareness-downloads
  • Organise a seminar or film night for people in your workplace school or church to find out more about modern slavery. Use the five Journeys mini films to prompt discussion or invite a local charity to share information about exploitation in your area.

We all have a part to play. We’re not all going to be investigators, looking into the crimes, but we can all be the eyes and ears on the ground.

Becca Faal
Diocese of Gloucester Safeguarding Officer

What is Labour Exploitation?

In the film, Mihail is forced to hand over his wages to a criminal gang. His identity documents are confiscated and he has no freedom to leave. This is an example of labour exploitation.

We asked Frank Hanson, Head of Prevention and Partnerships at the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) to explain more:

Labour exploitation is the most common form of modern slavery in the UK. Victims are forced to work for little or no pay, often under the threat of punishment. Thousands of people in the UK are potential victims of labour exploitation and are controlled by force, threats, coercion, abduction, fraud and deception.

Labour exploitation can take place in any sector. It is commonly found in a range of industries, including agriculture, food processing, construction, hand car washes, beauty, care, manufacturing and catering.

Victims may be reluctant to tell their story through fear of reprisal or not being believed, or a feeling of shame about letting themselves be treated in this way, or because they do not know their rights and the treatment they are entitled to receive.

If you see something that doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right and you should report it.

Sion Hall
Retired Deputy Chief Inspector and Chair of the Pan Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnership

Sion’s journey

In 2017, Sion Hall, a senior detective with the Lancashire Police, was asked by the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office to use his imminent retirement to establish an Anti-Slavery Partnership. Having worked in policing for 30 years and set up the Human Trafficking Team for the county, Sion felt it was a perfect way to put his skills and experience to good use and work on something he was passionate about.

Sion became the chair of the newly formed Pan Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnership (PLASP) and quickly began drawing in other statutory agencies, NGOs, charities and faith groups to work together. As a committed Catholic, he felt strongly about the importance of the church being closely involved with the Partnership.

PLASP meets monthly and focuses on raising awareness amongst frontline agencies, churches and community groups and the wider public, providing training and encouraging victim identification and support.


For probably the first time in my life, my faith and work were coming together.

Sion Hall
Retired Deputy Chief Inspector and Chair of the Pan Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnership


Lent devotional - week 1

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