Linds Batson lives outside Bradford on Avon and is part of a Rural Benefice in the Diocese of Salisbury. At the start of the year, she began thinking about Lent and looking for a course to inspire her. She came across The Clewer Initiative’s Women in the Shadows course and it appealed to her because she is passionate about women’s issues. She immediately emailed a few women within the Benefice and five agreed to attend the Lent Course with her - five signed up.
She explains: “I am a passionate feminist and have always taken an interest in issues affecting women but until this year, I didn’t know much about modern slavery. Each week, we watched a Women in the Shadows film over zoom and then used the devotional material to think more about exploitation and our response. The quality of the material was so good and it really fired my imagination. I became more and more interested in modern slavery and how it might be happening locally, in our semi-rural environment. I began to notice situations around me that aroused my suspicion such as a rural encampment that I had never seen before and the local hand car wash. It was like unravelling an onion – once we began learning about modern slavery, it got the whole group asking searching questions about the ramifications locally. We were all amazed at the scale of the problem and the fact that it exists in every community, even a pretty rural setting like ours.”
The group in the Benefice of North Bradford on Avon and Villages is excited about continuing to raise awareness locally. It is beginning to make plans to mark Anti-Slavery Day in October and run a Hidden Voices course in November across the four churches in the Benefice. Linds hopes to get modern slavery higher up the agenda at the local church, encouraging people to include it regularly in the prayers. She also hopes to raise awareness in the community, informing the local WI about the Clewer material and writing an article in the parish magazine.
“What began as a short course over Lent, has turned into a bit of a revolution in my life and galvanised our group. We really want many people in the Benefice to understand more about modern slavery and the number of victims in our country.