Parishes are encouraged to mark Anti Slavery Sunday on 17 October by incorporating some of the themes into their church services and praying for those affected.
The Clewer Initiative is enabling Church of England dioceses and wider Church networks to develop strategies to detect modern slavery in their communities and help provide victim support and care. They have masses of information and resources on their top five suggestions for Anti-Slavery Day 2021.
Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. It covers a wide range of abuse and exploitation including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation, and organ harvesting.
Victims of modern slavery can be of any age, gender, nationality, and ethnicity. They are tricked or threatened into work and may feel unable to leave or report the crime through fear or intimidation. They may not recognise themselves as a victim.
Canon Jane Brooke, Vice Dean at Chester Cathedral is working in partnership with the Mothers' Union to create 47 links for two symbolic chains.
Canon Jane says: "47 is the number of people who were referred from slavery in Cheshire in 2020. In reality, the number will be higher because many are fearful of their owners and the consequences of escaping. The chain links will be placed down the aisle for Sunday 17 October so that the procession will walk either side. The president will also wear, symbolically, a knitted chain of small green links to represent those unseen and trapped in slavery and to encourage us to notice and report any unusual activities around us."
Cheshire Constabulary has published advice on their website highlighting the signs that could indicate someone is a victim of modern slavery.
Modern slavery could be happening in your community so it’s important you know the signs that could indicate someone is a victim of this crime.
The signs aren’t always obvious but there are some that you may notice:
- do they look scruffy, malnourished or injured?
- are they acting anxious, afraid or unable to make eye contact?
- are they doing long hours, wearing unsuitable clothing or have the wrong equipment for the job?
- is where they are living overcrowded, poorly maintained or are the curtains always closed?
- do they behave like they’re being instructed by someone else, picked up/dropped off at the same time and place every day or don’t have access to money or identification?
Communities have an important role to play in recognising abuse. If you recognise any of the above signs and suspect someone may be a victim of modern slavery, tell someone. You will always be taken seriously and protection and support is available.
To report a suspicion or seek advice you can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Pray for those who are enslaved
We call to you with hearts in pain for all in our world
who suffer the horrors of modern slavery;
for all who dream of a better life in another place
only to be trapped, tricked and traded;
for all those who labour, forced and unseen, to make our everyday possessions;
for all who agonise for loved ones lost into this trade in humans.
Your Son came to bring good news to the poor and freedom for the oppressed –
May we too be voices against oppression, channels of good news;
May our eyes be opened wide to all who suffer in our midst but out of sight.
All this we pray to you, loving God, for whom no one is invisible.