Category Archives: poverty

Talk reveals modern slavery in the UK

“If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t” was the message of a talk on modern slavery and human trafficking, delivered at St John’s Church, Hale, on May 22.

The talk, by Suzette Jones, health and wellbeing adviser for the Diocese of Guildford, revealed that, more than 200 years after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, there are still an estimated 40.3 million men, women and children trapped in modern slavery in the world, and up to 136,000 potential victims in the UK alone, according to the Global Slavery Index. Some of these are hidden in plain sight in our communities – as cleaners, in nail bars and car washes – and Surrey and Hampshire are known to be home to particularly large numbers of enslaved people living in our streets.

Suzette explained that the victims of modern slavery are often vulnerable people who thought they were being given a chance to escape their troubles for a better life – an education, a job, somewhere to live – and are often groomed over time so that they don’t realise what is happening. Once enslaved they usually live in fear, either for themselves or their families or both and so cannot escape. While many come from abroad, many are from the UK and in 2017 the UK had the most victims of slavery in the world, with Albania and Vietnam a close second and third.

The talk, which was accompanied by a film based on a true story about enslaved men working on a farm, detailed some of the signs of slavery to look out for, including people working long hours without the proper protective equipment, lack of money, language problems, not having identity documents and having strange injuries. Car washes and nail bars are particularly known for using slave labour and there is a smartphone app – the Safe Car Wash app – which offers a short survey about the working conditions of car washes, and since its launch a year ago has been used more than 2,000 times with 41 per cent of the reports showing a likelihood of modern slavery. A nail bar app is following soon.

Behind the work to tackle modern slavery is The Clewer Initiative, which works with church networks to develop strategies to detect modern slavery in communities and help provide victim support and care. It relies on individuals to understand and report signs of modern slavery and anyone concerned that they may be witnessing slavery is urged not to tackle it themselves but to call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700, or 999 if someone is in immediate danger.

The talk was part of a series of events to mark the 175th anniversary of St John’s Church, Hale. The church was founded by Bishop Charles Sumner, Bishop of Winchester and resident of Farnham. He was a cousin of William Wilberforce who worked for the abolition of slavery in the early 19th century and whose son Samuel became Bishop of Winchester after Charles Sumner retired.

For further details of The Clewer Initiative and how to spot signs of modern slavery, visit www.theclewerinitiative.org. For further details of the St John’s Church, visit www.badshotleaandhale.org

 

Pictured above is one of the campaign posters for The Clewer Initiative.

Poverty in plain sight

Poverty is hidden in plain sight in our community. We may live in one of the least deprived parts of the country but there are pockets of real poverty here. In 2015, for instance, Sandy Hill was the most deprived borough in Waverley, especially in measures relating to income, education/skills and health.

Across the UK as a whole, we have seen an increase in the use of food banks, homelessness and rough sleeping, slavery and mental distress. With poverty comes poverty of spirit – self-esteem, isolation, depression. So, what can we do?

On Monday, February 4, Suzette Jones (Open to All / Health and Wellbeing Adviser from the Diocese of Guildford) will be leading a session at St Mark’s, from 7.30-9pm, to discuss this. As well as looking at the issues facing our society, the session will include practical suggestions to help us stand together against poverty. We will look at ways forward both through prayer and other steps we might take.

“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” James 2:15-16 (NIV).

For further information, contact Lesely Shatwell, llm.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org