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St Nicholas of Tolentino Parish, Bristol hosted two events on Wednesday 6th February around the theme of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, with representatives from the Santa Marta Group, the Clewer Initiative, Unseen, Bishop Alastair Redfern (Former Anglican Bishop of Derby and Chair for the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Advisory Panel) and Avon and Somerset Police.

Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, here in the UK and abroad, where they are mistreated, abused, and overworked for the benefit of their oppressors. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, and slavery whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. The United Nations estimates that there are today 40 million enslaved people. globally; and there could be as many 140,000 in the UK

The daytime event was for clergy and safeguarding representatives, both from the Diocese of Clifton and Ecumenically, and the evening event was open to all, which was well attended and received.

Both events brought to attention the unique and privileged role of the parish in tackling the oppression and dehumanization of Adults and Children that takes place in the form of Domestic Servitude, Sexual Exploitation, Drug Dealing (County Lines), Nail Bars, Agriculture and Fruit Picking, and Car Washes.
It is not just a problem that affects our large cities but is prevalent in smaller towns and villages.

This issue calls us as a parish and as a Diocese to action; for we must make it our responsibility to be informed about modern slavery, how to spot the signs and how to go about reporting concerns. We are called to work with the authorities to combat human trafficking and slavery, and also to find ways of supporting and caring for survivors of such brutality and inhumanity.  This is echoed by Pope Francis who said in 2013:

“Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free victims and stop this crime that’s become ever more aggressive, that threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society…”[1]              

We thank all who spoke and took part in the day, and we pray that much fruit will bear from this this landmark event in our diocese.

What can you do to combat Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery?

Ideas provided by the Santa Marta Group

In  your  parish  and  community

  • Pray  for  victims  of  modern  slavery,  organise  a  prayer  service,  remember  them at  mass
  • Raise  awareness  with  your  friends  and  family  about  modern  slavery
  • Celebrate  the  feast  of  St  Josephine  Bakhita  on  February  8th,  an  annual  day  of prayer  for  survivors  and  victims  of  modern slavery
  • Host  an  event  in  your  parish  to  raise  awareness  of  modern  slavery
  • Put  posters  and  cards  about  modern  slavery  in  your  parish  and  newsletter
  • Celebrate  Freedom  Sunday  on  the  closest  Sunday  to  UK  Anti-Slavery  Day  on 18th  October
  • Teach  your  church’s  young  people  about  modern  slavery  –  both  about  how they  can  help  stop  it  and  how  they  might  be  vulnerable

 

As  an  individual

  • Become  informed  about  modern  slavery,  learn  how  to  spot  the  signs  and  how to  report  any  concerns
  • Volunteer  in  a  safe  house  or  local  charity  working  with  victims  of  trafficking
  • Support  a  safe  house  with  practical  donations  e.g.  toiletries
  • Raise  money  for  a  safe  house  or  local  charity
  • Volunteer  raising  awareness  with  the  local  police
  • Offer  language  skills  to  the  police  and  charities
  • Offer  professional  skills  pro  bono  to  charities
  • Download  the  Safe  Car  Wash  App  and then when you are using a hand car wash, open the app and complete a short survey about the working conditions of the car wash.
  • Write  to  your  MP  to  find  out  what  they  and  their  party  are  doing  locally, nationally  and  internationally  to  combat  modern  slavery  and  support  victims of  trafficking
  • Check  the  Modern  Slavery  Statements  of  your  favourite  brands  and  shops and  send  them  an  email  if  you  don’t  think  they’re  clear  enough
  • Become  an  ethical  consumer  and  buy  Fairtrade  products