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Innovative workshops to help frontline workers respond to cases of modern slavery

First Modern Slavery PEC resources published to mark the Anti-Slavery Day

Published: 16th October 2020

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC) today marks Anti-Slavery Day 2020 by making available a set of innovative resources designed to help frontline practitioners in local areas across the UK respond to individual cases of modern slavery.

This Sunday, 18 October, is Anti-Slavery Day, the day appointed by Parliament as the national day to raise awareness of the need to eradicate all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation.

Modern slavery is estimated to affect tens of thousands of people across the UK, with over 10,000 people officially identified as potential victims by the authorities in 2019. Children and adults get coerced, trapped and exploited in a wide range of forms of exploitation, from forced labour in sectors such as farming, construction or hospitality, to sexual exploitation, domestic work or forced criminality. No local area in the UK is free from these extreme forms of exploitation.

The new resources and the workshops were designed for the Modern Slavery PEC through a project led by the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull, who worked in close collaboration with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership and Fresca Group.

The Modern Slavery PEC is a newly established publicly funded centre created to transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to overcome modern slavery. The resources are the first research project output published by the Centre, embodying its commitment to partnership and collaboration, and to produce innovative research that produces practical impact for people affected by modern slavery.

Although the general awareness of modern slavery has risen in recent years in the UK, it’s often hard for frontline practitioners to be able to respond to different and often very complex individual cases of people trapped and exploited.

The workshops are designed to change that, providing innovative solutions for local authorities and partners to develop their own practical responses. Rather than relying on dry presentations, the workshops are based on simulated realistic scenarios (see examples below), taking into account complex individual factors for the people affected, as well as limitations in the capacity of those required to intervene.

The training is designed specifically to support regional Modern Slavery Partnerships, local initiatives that bring together key partners from their regions to collaboratively improve the prevention of modern slavery and the support provided to people affected. The authors recommend using the workshops only through the regional Modern Slavery Partnerships, which can guide and coordinate local partners to a cohesive practical response.

Five separate workshops have been developed for front-line practitioners such as the police, safeguarding teams, housing teams, fire and rescue and health services, as well as for NGOs and community organisations, businesses and recruitment agencies. One workshop is designed for all local stakeholders.

A critical part of the project is to bring key actors together to develop their own comprehensive response to modern slavery cases in their particular areas, rather than applying a one-size-fits-all, top-down instruction. The workshops aim to create a platform for attendees to work together through a set of practical scenarios, moving away from the traditional teacher-learner model and allowing participants to develop their own mechanisms, tailored to the particular needs of their local community.

Understanding survivor needs

Alicia Kidd from the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull, who led on the project, said:

“We want frontline workers, wherever they are in Britain, to be prepared for complex cases of modern slavery in order to provide effective wrap-around support that best meets the needs of those affected.

“We created these workshops so that local communities across the UK can create their own well-informed and coordinated response to modern slavery cases based on the needs in their region.”

Frank Hanson from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), said:

“Very often the issues surrounding forced and compulsory labour are hugely complex; some exploited workers don’t consider themselves victims while others are reluctant to come forward because they worry about the consequences.

“What these workshops do is provide realistic scenarios to help legitimate businesses and workers who come across individuals affected by exploitation to know exactly what to do to protect and support them.”

Murray Hunt, Director of the Modern Slavery PEC, said:

“We are pleased to be able to mark Anti-Slavery Day 2020 by making available the product of one of our first projects. I am delighted that it’s so focused on making a very practical impact for people affected by modern slavery at the local level in the UK.

“The resources that we are making available today demonstrate the Modern Slavery PEC’s commitment to collaboration and to putting the people affected by modern slavery at the heart of our work.”

Example scenarios used in the workshops – what would you do?

Below are three example scenarios of situations frontline workers might come across. The initial part of the scenario given to participants might not provide enough information to determine if it’s a case of modern slavery, however, it should raise concerns. The workshops will work through the initial response and participants will be given more information as the workshop goes on and the situation develops.

Scenario 1: Multi-agency response

The local authority receives a complaint about a vermin infestation in a private house. They arrive to discover it’s a very run-down House of Multi Occupancy (HMO). In the house, there are four adults and two children. One person speaks limited English and explains that he was brought here three weeks ago. Four of the occupants arrived a week after he did. The other occupant was already living there, though he appears very unwell, so he hasn’t spoken to him properly. The man speaking tells you he works in a recycling plant.

Scenario 2. Business

One of your staff members comes to you with concerns about one of the workers. He seems to be wearing the same clothes every day and doesn’t seem to be washing. The HR checks show that this worker is an agency worker. You check the sheet that logs all the workers’ hours. It says the worker in question works exactly 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. Looking through the paperwork, it says the same thing every week for the past three months – when the worker started. However, you have been on site for the previous two weekends and remember the individual working on both Saturdays.

Scenario 3: Victim care pathways

You receive a call concerning 14-year-old Jamie who has had a consistent history of behavioural problems within school. These problems have resulted in exclusions and eventually a transfer to the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) where his behavioural problems continued. Jamie has aggressive and physically violent behaviour and there are rumours among students that he is a drug dealer, though some students have been dismissive of this because he is so scruffy and sometimes smelly.

Download the workshops:

Notes to editor:

For further information and to arrange interviews with the project lead Alicia Kidd, please contact Modern Slavery PEC’s Communications Director Jakub Sobik at j.sobik@modernslaverypec.org or on 07912145610.

You can find and download the resources for the workshops from the Modern Slavery PEC website at https://modernslaverypec.org/research-projects/interactive-workshops.

Anti-Slavery Day, which is observed on 18th October every year, was created by Parliament in the Anti-Slavery Day Act 2010. The purposes of Anti-Slavery Day are to acknowledge that millions of men, women and children continue to be victims of slavery, depriving them of basic human dignity and freedom; to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation and encourage people to be proactive in the fight against it; and to draw attention to what more needs to be done to end it.

About the Modern Slavery PEC

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC, or the Centre) was created by the investment of public funding to enhance the understanding of modern slavery and transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to overcome it.

It's designed to provide independent, impartial and authoritative insight and analysis on modern slavery based on high quality research it commissions, aiming to have a transformational impact on the understanding of modern slavery and the responses to it. The Centre brings together academics, policymakers, businesses, civil society, survivors and the public on a scale not seen before in the UK to collaborate on solving this global challenge. The Modern Slavery PEC’s approach is rooted in human rights.

Led by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law (part of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL)) the Centre is a consortium of universities and Independent Research Organisations consisting of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull, the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool, the Bonavero Institute on Human Rights at the University of Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute. The Modern Slavery PEC is funded and actively supported by the Art and Humanities Research Council on behalf of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), from the Strategic Priorities Fund.