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There’s little doubt that our Co-op has shown leadership in making modern slavery a national issue in the UK. However, we never wanted to be the only big business campaigning on this. So, I’m pleased to announce that 10 UK businesses have now signed up to our Bright Future programme which is providing work placements and paid employment to some of the most vulnerable people in our society today.
“We think of slavery as something from the history books but it is happening in the UK at this very moment” Pippa Wicks, Co-op Group Deputy CEO
Modern slavery is a blight on our society, impacting our fellow human beings in unimaginable ways as they are stripped of their freedom and their dignity. Victims are hidden in plain sight working in nail bars, car washes or in private homes. We think of slavery as something from the history books but it is happening in the UK at this very moment.
A Bright Future for survivors of modern slavery
Companies such as Body Shop, Dixon Carphone, Co-op food suppliers and a number of independent co-operative societies will now be providing employment for people rescued from exploitation. Under our programme, survivors are offered a four-week paid work placement leading to a non-competitive interview. If both elements are successful, the candidate will be offered a job.
These 10 businesses will now work hand in hand with a network of local charities, a network we established together with victim support charity City Hearts, to identify suitable applicants.
Already more than 30 vulnerable survivors are being given a chance to rebuild their lives, thanks to Bright Future and it is envisaged that up to 300 will secure placement through our programme by 2020.
Anti-Slavery International Charter
We believe that UK businesses have a moral responsibility to lead the global business community. By standing together and co-operating we can make it clear that we will not allow this terrible crime continue.
That’s why our Co-op became the first corporate organisation in the world to sign the Anti-Slavery International Charter and we’re pleased to see Marks and Spencer follow us. We have also written to CEOs at all FTSE 100 companies asking them to commit to the actions set out in the Charter, developed by Anti-Slavery International.
Through the Charter our Co-op has committed to ensure:
- full transparency of our supply chains to identify where risks of slavery, forced and child labour are highest and to help identify the causes of these risks
- any labour providers we use adhere to basic standards of human rights protections
Having heard the harrowing stories of people who have been caught up in this heinous crime, I‘m proud that we are taking the lead and working to help eliminate modern slavery and that other businesses are now joining us.
Co-op Group Deputy CEO