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An Anti-slavery App

by Michael Ford last modified 26 Mar, 2021 01:44 PM

More than 900 reports of potential modern slavery in hand car washes have been recorded through a C of E sponsored app that is being championed by our own Diocesan Mothers Union.

An Anti-slavery App

Safe Car Wash App launch photo courtesy

Diocesan MU President Rosie Stiven said:

"Mothers’ Union is an ideal partner in this work that raises awareness within communities of this insidious and criminal practice, because of our involvement with our local communities."

Rosie was invited to be one of the members of the South West Regional Committee of the Clewer Initative, which launched the app.

She said:
"Modern day slavery is one of the hidden evils in our society. Vulnerable men, women and children are being trafficked, abused and exploited by ruthless, well-organised criminal gangs. Vulnerable people are regarded only as commodities to be used and abused for the criminals' financial gain.

"Evidence shows that the Safe Car Wash App, launched by the Clewer Initiative as an intelligence gathering tool, can help in tracing the perpetrators and in protecting the vulnerable."

The Clewer Initative, which was established by the Church of England to help to help bring an end to modern day slavery and human trafficking, launched the Safe Car Wash app with the Santa Marta Group, the Catholic Church’s anti-slavery project, with support from anti-slavery campaigners and other key agencies, including the police and councils.

The app, which allows drivers to respond to a checklist of key factors that may suggest modern slavery or labour exploitation in hand car washes, has been downloaded 8,225 times since its launch.

Between June and December 2018 there were 2,271 completed entries using the app, with 41 per cent, or 930 reports, where users were told there was a likelihood of modern slavery at the hand car wash. They were then asked to call the Modern Slavery Helpline, and their findings were shared in real time with police and the Gangmasters’ and Labour Abuse Authority.

Rosie added:
"Modern day slavery is an umbrella term for all forms of slavery, trafficking and exploitation. At the core of this crime is deception. Survivors of modern day slavery tell stories of being sold a better life. They are often vulnerable, coming from areas where there is little possibility of work. They are offered a job, a chance to make money and to build a new life for themselves.

"Those who offer these opportunities (the gangmasters) may even organise their travel to a different country, controlling every aspect of their trip. The job they are offered turns out to be a lie and instead they are forced to work in
difficult and degrading conditions, with little or no pay. The threat of violence, to themselves or their families, hangs over them and traps them in their situation.

"This is the reality for over 11,000 men, women and children in the UK. It is likely that these figures are much higher, as it is believed that many more cases are unreported."

The Safe Car Wash app also asked drivers to look out for nearby caravans, containers, mattresses and bedding as evidence of workers living on site. A total of 14 per cent of reports suggested that workers were living on the car wash site.

In the Diocesan MU Magzine 'Windows', Rosie told her members:

"I’m sure you remember Bishop Nicholas pointing out to us during our last Festival Service in April 2016, that we get involved in some really tough issues. Well this one is a really tough issue and I commend it to you as a campaign in which we can all get involved over the next 3 years and beyond. Let us raise awareness within our communities and by doing so, help to put an end to modern day slavery."

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