586 words, approx. 2.5 minutes to read.

Today is national Anti-Slavery Day. Why does slavery need its own day? Well in the UK modern slavery is a rapidly growing criminal activity but we’re only just beginning to understand the scale of the crimes being committed. The National Crime Agency estimate that there are over 10,000 potential victims of slavery in the UK right now, with potential victims recorded in 2016 coming from 108 different countries.

So let me tell you something about modern slavery, what we’re doing as the Co-op, and how you can help too.

Vulnerable

Slavery is the second biggest illegal trade in the world and it preys on the most vulnerable men, women and children destroying their lives by trapping them in crime, domestic slavery, the sex trade or forced labour. Figures show that 1 in 4 victims are children, whilst up to 34% of victims of slavery go on to be re-trafficked.

You can find out more at www.antislavery.org

Anti-Slavery Day creates an opportunity for UK charities, businesses, local authorities and the government to come together to raise awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Our Co-op campaigns to tackle modern slavery because Co-op members voted overwhelmingly in favour at our last AGM and it’s aligned with our long standing commitment to social justice and equality.

So here’s what we’re doing.

Ensuring it has no place in our supply chains

Our Co-op Food ethical trade programme works hard to ensure suppliers have proper training in place to make sure modern slavery has no part in the production, growth or manufacture of the products we sell and services we use, and also so suppliers know how to act in case it occurs. We’ve put strong policies in place and we’re making sure they’re rigorously enforced throughout our supply chains and in our own business operations.

Paid training and employment opportunity

We offer survivors of modern slavery a paid work placement with Co-op Food and the promise of a job if things work out. We’re the first major UK business to do this.

We call our programme, Bright Future and it is the result of a 3 year partnership with global victim support charity City Hearts and the Snowdrop Project.

This year we have set ourselves the target helping 30 survivors of modern slavery with a paid work placement. In November we’ll be reporting on our Bright Future programme’s success and developments so far.

Lobbying government

Our Co-op recently supported Lord McColl’s Modern Slavery (Victim’s Support) Bill, which proposed extending the number of days the government provides support for survivors of modern slavery from 45 days to a full year.

We’re pleased it will now move onto committee stage for further consideration.

How you can help tackle modern slavery

The more people that know about modern slavery, the better chance we have of preventing it. You can visit the modern slavery helpline website to learn more and raise awareness. You can also:

  • ask businesses you use how they tackle modern slavery in their supply chains
  • learn how to spot the signs and contact the 24/7 Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 to confidentially report something you think could be modern slavery

Modern Slavery is a big, complicated problem but we can tackle it. We’re doing that by making sure no part of our world-wide supply chain is in any way involved in slavery; and we’re helping the survivors of slavery here in the UK to rebuild their lives. By all of us educating ourselves to spot slavery, and then know what to do, we can begin to make progress.

Steve Murrells
Co-op Group CEO

Join the conversation! 36 Comments

  1. […] To find out why this day is so important, and what our Co-op is doing to tackle modern slavery, check out this blog post from Steve Murrells. […]

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  2. But wasn’t the Co-op bank just as greedy, dishonest and corrupt as the rest, I seem to recall from a few years ago?

    Please enlighten me. What’s in this for you? Why should we trust you?

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  3. Thank you for raising this terrible problem, together we can achieve change. Every step matters

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. If these people have been brought to this country unwilling, surely our effort should be to repatriate them back with their families in their homeland.
    This would enable funds, jobs and vital homes to be afforded to British citizens.

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    • Hi, our Bright Futures programme focusses on those survivors residing in the UK, the authorities will handle repatriation as necessary but we’re not involved in this. ^Jordan

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      • My understanding ding is that their own people in their own countries are the ones that enslaved them in the first place and are at the beginning of the chain. Repatriation can mean death for them and their families

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  5. Paul Gerrard , Group Policy Director, the Co-operative Group, gave a really excellent presentation on Sunday morning at the Co-operative Party Centenary Conference in London. Paul explained in graphic detail the importance of and how tackling 21st Century slavery via the Co-operative Bright Future project was working. It really did show that Co-operative Values and Principles are still working and at the forefront of Co-operative actions both Nationally and Internationally today and for a Brighter Future for all.

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  6. As a member of the Methodist Church, modern day slavery is something which has been highlighted to me. I am very impressed and pleased to find the Co-op are supporting Anti Slavery Day.

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  7. Every Englishman is already a Slave because our Constitutional Laws are being violated and we need a revolution now.

    If you don’t believe you are a slave do what I have done and stop paying Council Tax. All these Taxes and on the spot fines violate Constitutional Law.

    This country and our whole system of governance has been hijacked and our Law has been subverted. Law students like myself are being taught sedition and it needs to be stopped.

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  8. Your kidding right? I worked for funeralcare until the new manager took over and it all changed for the worse. It was his way or the highway. 17 years of my life for a company that doesn’t give a rat’s areas for their employees.

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  9. Why is the Co-Op so against slavery when the Christian religion and the bible advocates slavery. So many arguments about assisted dying GBLT rights are based on the bible. I’m confused. The bile is also clear that if a woman is not a virgin when married she can be stoned to death or if two different clothe are worn the person can be stoned to death. Can someone pleas explain which parts we should accept and which we shouldn’t

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    • My understanding of the Bible is that it was originally compiled from accounts given by many different people and their personal opinions, ideals and experiences of the relevant times. I believe it is therefore open to various interpretations and beliefs. There are indeed many contradictory Bible inclusions.
      If I may give an example, in modern day terms, if three different emergency services personnel were to attend an incident, and asked to write an account, then no doubt although all based on the same incident, all the accounts would differ, as they would be taken from various perspectives. Of course times have changed from Biblical times, and in my view one has to adapt accordingly with that which is now acceptable, moral and constructively conducive to modern civilised and responsibly social society.
      From a personal view, I just aim to treat others as I myself would like to be treated, to help others, and be to be honest. I am pleased that a modern day business like the Co-op chooses to support causes such as the Anti Slavery.

      I am also pleased the Co-op have invested in my local village and secured a premises, and will be opening a new store early next year.

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      • I see your point but the King James version rewritten how many times? finalised by a comity. Why do modern interpreters deny me the write to a good death or someone else to an abortion because of a book written when people didn’t understand where the sun went at night

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      • Haile, I would hazard a guess that the modern interpreters are just translating old scripts into a more easily understandable up to date version, not actually altering the content of the original scripts. I would imagine modern legislative laws have more to do with the rights of people these days, than the content of the Bible.

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    • use your common sense to leave the accepted behaviour of the dark ages in the past and don’t be dictated to about what is right and wrong. If you don’t know stoning people to death, using people as slaves and advocating murder as punishment is just plain wrong, you need to learn about these practises around the world – they’re usually only accepted in the same culture around the world. The bible said many things in the old testament which were challenged in the new – people became enlightened and empathic with education.

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  10. Having worked for the CIS I am well aware of the way people are treated I understand when the shops are being refurbished the staff are forced to take their annual holidays so I think people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones

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  11. As human beings we should help the victims of slavery in the UK, many of whom were duped into coming here by a false promise of a job. We should also deal harshly with the traffickers. Is anyone working with overseas institutions to try and prevent trafficking from happening in the first place?

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Hi Artur, we focus on our international supply chain, but Government also look at the wider issue abroad. ^Jordan

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    • Best comment so far. Having lived and worked in SE Asia for over 20 years, I have seen first hand how mafia exert influence on impoverished communities, particularly through loan-sharking. Police, military and government are usually complicit. Co-Op’s activities are unfortunately “sticking plaster” solutions. Let’s see a high ranking police officer convicted in an international court? Also, what messages do survivors send home? “It wasn’t that bad, come and join me”?

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  12. I understood that since a British judge’s courageous decision in 1772 that slavery could not exist in Britain without a definite law to that effect, and there was none, that any person bound in slavery who landed in Britain was automatically freed by the fact of arriving here. So why does anyone continue to practise it here?

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    • Hi Michael, you’re right – in the 18th/19th century, certain individuals campaigned to ensure slavery was abolished and the Slavery Abolition Act was therefore enacted across most of the british empire of the time. Whilst slavery is still definitely ruled as illegal across the vast majority of the world, the ‘modern slavery’ which Co-op are campaigning on today refers to a hidden organised crime, where people are bought and sold illegally under the radar of the law, just like drugs or arms. This is unfortunately a different challenge to the slavery of the 18th century slave trade, and one that requires a new wave of campaigning and collaboration across the world to tackle. Thank you for your interest in Co-op’s campaigning on this important matter. Hannah

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  13. What is Salvery in actual irrespective of modern or ancient ?

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  14. I have been trying to publicise modern-day slavery (especially in the UK where I should be doing something about it) for decades. I think slavery is one of the worst things still existing in this world. I am so glad that the Co-op has stated its support against modern-day slavery, if only more supermarkets joined in.

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  15. A person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them. Its does not matter the state or condition of being a slave; a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune. A person legally owned by another and having no freedom of action or right to property

    A person legally owned by another and having no freedom of action or right to property. I don’t think its only applied to poor only. or

    You got a job, man. You got a slave.

    Please confirm if I missed something ?

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  16. Glad to see a fellow Methodist on my first visit to the site! I have known many years about the on going Slave trade through Church and other organisations I support. Can I also point out the Old testament was written years after the events and in a different time. As a Christian still struggling to live up to my belief,I take what Jesus said. Love God and your neighbour as yourself.
    We have had some high profile cases of modern slavery here in Kent this past year,

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