CCMS HT ConferenceGroup photo
Report

Changing Perspectives and Priorities 

 The first conference by Churches Together in England’s (CTE) new initiative, Churches Combating Modern Slavery-Human Trafficking (CCMS-HT) was held at the Parish Hall of St Aloysius, London on 1st December, 2015. Titled ‘Changing perspectives and priorities: affirming life and combating modern slavery - human trafficking’, the conference brought together participants from CTE member churches.  A majority were from Pentecostal churches, but also included Anglican, Baptist, The Salvation Army and Orthodox Churches; along with a few other organisations.  Chair of the first session, Rev Dr Joe Aldred, welcomed participants and invited three individuals to pray. 
 
Ms Ann Marie Douglas, The Salvation Army’s Project Director, Adult Victims of Modern Slavery Care and Coordination Services, gave the first presentation, the keynote address on the theme, ‘Changing Perspectives and Priorities: Affirming Life and Combating Modern Slavery-Human Trafficking’. Highlighting its prevalence (circa 29 million world-wide; it’s in the town or city where you live) and that there is ‘no typical victim’, she outlined the importance of understanding what Modern Slavery is and how Human Trafficking relates to it. She explained The Salvation Army’s role in managing the Government’s national Victim Care Contract to support victims of modern slavery.  She gave an in-depth account of the magnitude of this grave issue, Modern Slavery - Human Trafficking through definitions, case studies and statistics which served as an eye opener for participants.  Ann Marie’s presentation gave a detailed picture of what provision is in place to support adult victims and highlighted where gaps exist.  Ann Marie’s presentation is available here.
 
Rev Dr Carrie Pemberton Ford, Director, Research Cambridge Centre for Applied Research in Human Trafficking (CCARHT), gave the second presentation on ‘The role of faith and action in changing perspectives and priorities’.  This took the form of a Bible study based Mark 2: 1-12 and John 8: 3-11 (healing of the paralysed man and the bent woman). 
She focussed on freedom from the sins of Modern Day Slavery – inertia, ostracism, and denial; and revisited Jesus’ mission and ministry, his call today which deepens faith convictions when answering the question, ‘why should we as Christians and CTE be engaged in addressing this issue critically with passion, compassion and a sense of responsibility that translate our faith into action.  Carrie brought out the importance of addressing the Pentecostal Churches specifically and other churches in general to deepen the Churches’ engagement to combat Modern Slavery – Human Trafficking that will look at the policies, migration issues, developing education and training to promote awareness, prevention and creation of safe space, meeting physical as well as spiritual needs of victims.  
 
In the plenary that followed these two presentations, many questions were raised and clarification sought particularly in relation to how the gap be bridged between the number of potential victims (circa 2,900) and just 30 safe houses in the country.  Circumstances of enslaved and trafficked individuals including poverty and the innocence of parents who are not aware of where they are sending their children to were deliberated.

This brought to the centre of discussion the need to talk more about intervention - should there be monitoring after care is given and why preventive work especially in child sexual exploitation becomes essential. Participants asked, ‘How can we help? How can Churches offer help?’
 
The afternoon session was chaired by Mrs Elizabeth Joy, Volunteer Coordinator of CCMS-HT and organiser of the Conference.  It began with the Panel comprised of Mr Chris Ansell, Training Lead and Office Manager, Independent Antislavery Commission (IASC), UK; and Mr Harrison Cooter, Anti-Slavery Unit, Home Office. The panel theme was ‘The strength and importance of networking in affirming Life in the process of combating MS-HT’ (A social perspective).

Chris brought an apology from Kevin Hyland OBE, (the first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner for UK), who could not be present at this conference.  He began with the impact of the Modern Slavery Bill that received Royal Assent on 26th March 2015 gearing up the work on the part of the government.  Chris highlighted the Strategic Plan, focus on good practise, and identification of victims that need networking in affirming life in the process of combating Modern Slavery – human Trafficking.  He focussed on the 5 priorities of the Strategic Plan: – victim identity and care, law enforcement evaluation, partnerships, private sector engagement and international collaboration.  With case studies and examples he pointed out how the perpetrators work to continuously substitute a new victim when one is rescued in addition to their ever increasing targets on trafficking and its profits. Therefore, the need to network and combat Human Trafficking is all the more essential.  Detailed information on the Strategic Plan is available here.

Harrison Cooter began with the Modern Slavery Act as a landmark legislation and focussed on the 4 Ps that form the Counter Trafficking Response – Policy (and Cooperation), Prevention, Prosecution; and Protection (Recovery & Reintegration). He also spoke about the problems related to migration and its impact on combating modern slavery – human trafficking.  He also referred to these two advertisements that they use to promote awareness and prevention of Modern Slavery – Human Trafficking through their communications campaign.
 
A plenary discussion following the above two presentations and brought a flood of questions from participants.  These questions were very pertinent and crucial to the Churches especially.  The participants made it very clear that the Church’s position would be to network and combat modern slavery through clear, transparent and helpful measures, but not spying on their own people.  The overlap between migration and trafficking and the need for government to be clear about the difference in their policies and pronouncements was also highlighted.  There was a lot of discussion on issues surrounding migrating on false hopes and promises, plus poverty, deception, pornography, internet sexual exploitation and how these can be addressed.  It was clearly stated that if UK government works with Nigeria or other countries in Africa in relation to combating human trafficking, they should network with the African Churches here in UK for better outcomes.  It was felt that strategic decisions made at the top should reach the grassroots level for a successful mission in combating Human Trafficking. 
 
Participants expressed their thirst for a mechanism that can put existing good practice and principles into action at grass-root level. Questions remain about how to challenge the Churches and communities to better engage, how to develop partnerships, networking and do our best as communities, churches, organisations working with government bodies such as the Independent Anti-Slavery Commission, Home office and others.
 
The panel was followed by group discussion.  The three groups were asked to report on what needs to be done further to translate faith into action as Churches Combating Modern Slavery – Human Trafficking. The following emerged as main action points for next steps:

  1. Give encouragement to the work that is being done in different sectors and promote networking.
  2. CTE to develop an Information Hub (a one-stop-shop) with to all information related to Modern Slavery – Human Trafficking issues; how Churches are engaged in addressing it; and possible ways into engagement. It should have resources, toolkits, funding information, networking, education and training opportunities, etc., all in one place.
  3. Recognising the need for education in local churches, people need to be educated not just about Human Trafficking but their moral behaviour specifically related to pornography.
  4. Promote training and education with a toolkit for Sunday school, Youth and adult members.
  5. Disseminate information from IASC about the strategic plan and from the Home Office’s help with immigration issues.
  6. Educate (local) Churches to identify ‘what we can do in our daily life to address this issue – Modern Slavery – Human Trafficking’. And equip communities to lobby, write to their local MPs to bring about change.
  7. Publicise the Anti-Slavery/Human Trafficking 24-Hour Helpline: 0800 0121 700


Finally, thanks were extended to the resource persons and all participants for making this conference a success through their enriching and challenging inputs, critical and creative interactions, productive and promising outcomes. There was a clear understanding that as a Christian community, we need to add another ‘P’ to the 4 Ps – Prayer.  The resource persons as well as the participants acknowledged the important as well as the essential role which spiritual care guarantees in this process of victim/survivor care. So the day’s inputs and interactions deepened our Conviction, Commitment and Connection to correct (ourselves, perpetrators and victims) and combat modern slavery – human trafficking.
 
Elizabeth Joy
Volunteer Co-ordinator CCMS-HT

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A copy of this report can be downloaded here



 

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