Guest Blog by Pete Bate - Director of Communications for Lichfield Diocese

A Wolverhampton church hosted an awareness event that brought home the reality of modern slavery in our communities this week.

The public event at St Peter’s Church in the city centre highlighted the exploitation of people who are offered jobs in nail bars, as agricultural workers, in car washes and other areas.

It is estimated that more than 40 million men, women and children are trapped in modern slavery across the world with at least 13,000 potential victims in the UK.

Tuesday’s event was organised by the Wolverhampton Anti-Slavery Partnership and the NHS, which brings agencies together to raise awareness, support victims and share intelligence on modern slavery.

Transforming Communities Together, Lichfield Diocese’s joint venture with Church Urban Fund (CUF), is a core member of the partnership along with West Midlands Police, and City of Wolverhampton Council.

St Peter’s is one of several Anglican churches in the Wolverhampton area that have been on standby as a reception centre for any victims rescued from modern slavery.

Team Rector the Revd Preb David Wright said: “It is important that the church is involved, on the basis that at the heart of the Christian message is the dignity and freedom of all individuals.

“Modern Slavery is a direct threat to that dignity and freedom and so as Christians we need to stand up to it and work to help those caught up in it.”

Modern slavery – or human trafficking - is the movement of a person from one place to another into conditions of exploitation, using deception, coercion, abuse of power or the abuse of the person’s vulnerability. It can involve forced labour, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation and child abuse and effects women and men, girls and boys, UK nationals and people trafficked from overseas.

Lichfield Diocese is one of several dioceses to sign up to the three-year Clewer Initiative which is helping churches to support the victims of modern slavery and identify signs of exploitation in their communities.

Find out more here.