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"We See You"

by Michael Ford last modified 27 Nov, 2019 05:35 PM

The trafficking of people into modern day slavery can happen right in front of us, but we so often miss the signs within our communities, our churches and our shops.

That was just one of the messages delivered by our Diocesan MU President Rosie Stiven when she spoke to local clergy, business and community leaders, and the Leader of the Council in Poole recently.

Rosie, who was highlighting the 'We See You' campaign (, at the Bishop’s Breakfast initiative in Poole, said that as recently as October this year, “a teenage girl suspected to have been trafficked was brought home to Dorset by police during a week-long crackdown on the County Lines drug gangs who bring misery to our County.”

Rosie began her talk by explaining that the Mother Union is partnering with the Clewer Initiative to raise awareness of modern day slavery in our communities:

"The Clewer Initiative is a project that enables The Church of England and its wider networks to develop strategies to detect modern day slavery in their communities and help provide victim support and care.”

Rosie said that more than 200 years after the abolition of the slave trade there are still an estimated 40.8 million men, women and children trapped in modern slavery. An estimated 136,000 potential victims are in the UK, however, there are many more victims out there who have not been identified and go unreported.

“Modern day slavery is an umbrella term for all forms of slavery, trafficking and exploitation. It is a serious and often hidden crime in which people are exploited for criminal gain. The impact can be devastating – even fatal – for the victims.

“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 and a chance to make money and to build a new life for themselves. Those who offer these opportunities may even organise their travel to a different country, controlling every aspect of their trip and often they are hidden in plain sight in cities, towns and villages, working with families, with car washes, in nail bars.”

Rosie explained that modern-day slavery takes many different forms in the UK and can vary from region to region, but that it has 4 broad categories - labour exploitation, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, and the trafficking of human organs.

She cited a range of cases going back to 1997, but gave 3 examples from this October. She highlighted the case of the 39 bodies found frozen to death in a container in Grays, Essex. The victims had been trafficked from Vietnam. She spoke about 4 people found guilty of trafficking women from Slovakia to Glasgow and forcing their victims into prostitution and sham marriages. One victim was sold for £10,000 outside a store on Argyle Street.

But closer to home she also highlighted the case of the Dorset teenager who was a victim of county lines trafficking.

She also spoke about the danger to the homeless:

"Rough sleeping in England has grown by 165% since 2010. In the last two years, the Modern Slavery Helpline has had reports of 353 potential victims who were homeless, before, during, or after being exploited. Homeless people are at risk of modern slavery. They are being targeted at drop ins."

She encouraged people to use the handouts created for the 'We See You' campaign that help communities to Spot the Signs of Modern Slavery. Martyn Underhill, the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, and a Lay Canon of the Cathedral, also spoke in the discussion, highlighting particularly the conditions on cruise ships.

More information here

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