Blog: Responding locally

Over the last couple of months, the Santa Marta Group team have been travelling around England and Wales taking part in awareness raising events, both within the Catholic community and further afield.

In London the Santa Marta Group have partnered with Caritas Westminster to put on evenings of practical advice for parishes on how they can get involved with the fight against modern slavery. These events have been supported by Bishop Nicholas Hudson and included input from the Metropolitan and local police. The events highlighted the importance of victim support with speakers from Caritas Bakhita House explaining the holistic care they offer.

The team have also participated in ecumenical and inter-faith awareness raising events, including speaking to the Rene Cassin fellowship programme about the importance of faith based groups in the fight against modern slavery.

Each of these events reminded attendees that slavery is an issue that affects everyone; with an estimated 40 million people in trapped in slavery worldwide. They highlighted the different forms modern slavery can take; sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, forced marriage, domestic servitude, forced criminality and organ harvesting and challenged attendees’ preconceptions by sharing survivor’s stories that showed that there is no stereotypical victim.

These awareness raising events are leading to the wider community being the ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground, helping them to spot the signs of modern slavery and encouraging individuals to alert the local police and the modern slavery helpline to these crimes which have previously been hidden in plain sight.

Comments from attendees included:

‘Excellent speakers gave a very clear outline of the key issues and the way forward’

‘Practical information from the experts. Overall the event was very interesting and helpful.’