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Last night I shared the Global Citizen Festival stage for the second time. On this occasion, to share how our Co-op supports survivors of Modern Slavery with training and paid employment at the Co-op.
We showed the crowd this film, all about our work campaigning against Modern Slavery and supporting survivors. One of the people in the film is Maria, a survivor of Modern Slavery, who’s now working in one of our London stores.
Maria, which is not her real name, was enslaved for several months, forced to work as a domestic servant and nanny to a wealthy family. I would have liked Maria to have been up on the stage with me last night, but she couldn’t have been because when you escape from slavery, you’re still not free.
When you escape from slavery, you’re still not safe, you’re still vulnerable because the slave masters come looking for you. You’re not safe because you have no money, because you can’t get work as you have no ‘papers’ and with no work, you can’t find a safe place to live.
It’s a difficult cycle to break.
Thankfully, Maria was able to break this cycle. Maria was able to gain a paid work placement with the Co-op which lead to a permanent job with us as part of our Bright Future programme.
How you can support survivors of Modern Slavery
Charities tell us that many freed victims of modern slavery quickly find themselves back where they started. The only way to break this cycle for more survivors is for the government to increase the length of support it provides. Right now, survivors get 45 days of support. That’s nowhere near enough time. It doesn’t reflect the reality of what Maria and so many others like her are going through.
So together, Co-op and Global Citizen are asking you to call on your MP to back a new Victims of Modern Slavery Bill introduced by Lord McColl, which advocates for 12 months of government support for survivors.
You can lend your support quickly and easily online, simply;
- visit globalcitizen.org/modernslavery
- enter your postcode
- add your name to the email written for you, which calls on your local MP to back the bill
- send a tweet, written for you, which calls on your local MP to back the bill
With year-long support, far more people like Maria will be able to take the work opportunities we want to provide from the Co-op.
Co-op Group CEO