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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Co-op Group CEO