Our 16 Days of Activism (see programme Action Report “Orange the World”) culminated with a talk delivered via Zoom by Andrew Wallis. In addition to members of SI Bristol, the talk was ‘attended’ by members from our Friendship Link clubs: SI Chester, SI Halifax and by SI Weston super Mare.
“Human trafficking is a crime. It does not always involve international transportation. Trafficking in the UK includes commercial, sexual and bonded labour. Trafficked people have little choice in what happens to them and often suffer abuse due to violence and threats made against them or their families. In effect, they become commodities owned by traffickers, used for profit”.
Andrew is an inspirational speaker and he started by telling us about the work of Unseen and how they are working towards a world without slavery. Their work involves supporting survivors and potential victims of slavery (men, women and children). They also provide training, raise awareness and work with Governments to influence change. They have a UK wide Modern Slavery Helpline in use 24 hours a day 365 days a year and they also take international calls. The staff are fully trained and offers a translation service too. They also refer to the police and other agencies and are deeply involved in campaigning.
The numbers of cases recorded are huge. In 2019 there were 5,144 modern slavery offences recorded in England and Wales and of those 230 were local cases
In the UK survivors and potential victims of slavery are involved with criminal exploitation for begging and drugs, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. Also forced labour in: nail bars. restaurants, car washes, fishing, manufacturing and construction.
How can we help? Andrew said that we can help by asking questions, for example at car washes if we suspect people are being exploited. However, one easy way to report back is by downloading the Unseen App which enables immediate reporting.
Very many thanks go to Andrew for his clear explanation on what is happening here in the UK and worldwide. Andrew’s talk was very well received and highly appropriate on Human Rights Day.