Modern Slavery summits in EBA
There is a good chance someone in your neighbourhood is a victim of modern slavery. Could you be part of God's rescue plan for them? Baptist minister Dan Pratt explains why the Eastern Baptist Association has organised three modern slavery summits
Churches within the Eastern Baptist Association have found themselves encountering people who have been held in modern slavery. Here at 57 West, Southend, we have regularly come across people who were being exploited for labour in carwashes or paving people’s driveways. Some were being held against their will. With the help of the police, we were able to safeguard some of these people.
In January 2017 we ran an awareness raising workshop about modern slavery for local churches. Through the workshop another local church identified someone vulnerable to modern slavery. With the help of the police this individual was safeguarded.
These examples are not isolated. Since the beginning of 2016, Essex police identified 253 potential victims of modern slavery within the county.
The Eastern Baptist Association recently sent a questionnaire to each of its churches relating to modern slavery. From the 47 churches who responded, 69 per cent of the churches indicated they thought it likely that instances of modern slavery were occurring within their community. Nineteen per cent of those churches had knowingly been in contact with people who had experienced modern slavery or who were at risk of being enslaved.
The surveyed churches highlighted the need of educating and training churches about modern slavery. Suggestions included:
how to spot the signs of slavery;
how to work in partnership with the police and other community groups;
how to offer care and safeguard those who have been exploited, or who are vulnerable to exploitation.
In response to this questionnaire and feedback, the Eastern Baptist Association has teamed up with the Church of England’s modern slavery project ‘The Clewer Initiative’.
Together we are co-hosting three Modern Slavery Summits in Norwich, Cambridge and Chelmsford. The summits will provide training in knowing how to combat modern slavery.
Input will be given by local police and other antislavery organisations. There will be opportunity to learn how to spot the signs and report concerns, and how to work in partnership with local agencies to make your community slavery free.
Witard Road Baptist Church, Norwich hosted the first summit on 27 January. Its minister Steve Thomasson writes, ‘According to some statistics there are at least 13,000 people in modern day slavery in the UK today! Surely not in my neighbourhood? Not in Norwich?
'If a relative of mine was innocently caught up in the slave trade, wouldn't you hope and pray that someone, somewhere would notice them and come to their rescue?
'I need my eyes opening that I might be part of God's rescue plan for someone. I hope this summit will help to inform and equip me to act.’
All are welcome to these free events
Image | Modern Slavery is closer than you think poster | www.gov.uk
Baptist minister Dan Pratt is Antislavery Coordinator for the Eastern Baptist Association