Modern Slavery discussion – Labour Party Conference Fringe Event 2016
published on 27 Sep 2016
In the run up to Anti Slavery Day on 18th October, The Salvation Army held a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference on Monday 26th September to raise awareness of Modern Slavery in the UK today and to call on the Labour Party to press the Government to address a gap in the support provided to victims.
The event consisted of a discussion with experts from The Church and charity along with Tatiana Gren-Jarden from the Office of the Independent Anti slavery Commissioner and Phill Clayton from City Hearts which is one of The Salvation Army’s sub-contractor organisations which helps to support victims on the front line.
This discussion comes at a time when The Salvation Army’s recent report has revealed a continued rise in the number of people entering its care between April 2015 and March 2016 – 1,331* people were supported.
The Salvation Army’s Modern Slavery report revealed that the North West is the fourth highest region for referrals – between April 2015 and March 2016 155 people (12% of all referrals) came to The Salvation Army’s care from this area.
Since 2011 The Salvation Army has held the government contract to support victims of modern slavery referred from England and Wales and has worked with a network of subcontractors in delivering this across the country.
Dr Helen Cameron, Head of Public Affairs at The Salvation Army, said: “We welcome efforts by the UK government to highlight the issue of Modern Slavery, and its continued drive to defeat it through landmark legislation, the Modern Slavery Act, as well as recent initiatives announced by the Prime Minister to create an inter-governmental Modern Slavery taskforce and an additional £33million fund to target overseas trafficking routes to the UK.
“However, for professionals at the front line of supporting victims, questions remain as to the ongoing support needs of victims upon leaving the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), and the impact of a positive decision on those ongoing needs.”
At the discussion, a Salvation Army Church Leader from the North West who runs a befriending scheme for victims talked about his experiences and the people his church family has supported. He said: "We journey with those to walk out of the shadows of darkness and into the light and safety. We support not a process but a life. We all have a right to live a life without being a victim. I'd like to quote William Wilberforce, 'You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.'" Dr Helen Cameron, encouraged the audience to do something.
She said: "Think of your favourite brand, go to its Facebook page and ask about its supply chain. Wherever you work, check all front line workers have had basic training on how to identify Modern Slavery.
“Keep your eyes and ears open. If you notice lots of comings and goings at strange hours, don't be afraid to call the Police. If someone offers you something that's almost too cheap, call the Police.
“The more awareness we can raise, the more likely it is that Modern Slavery will move from a hidden crime. As a movement, we believe in action. Everyone that's come tonight can now leave with something to do which can make a difference and help bring about change."