Have you ever been to a nail salon or hand car wash? These are everyday services that could be hiding a dark secret in plain sight. Slavery is not a thing of the past. There are an estimated 13,000 people living in the UK as slaves. Birmingham alone has seen a 100% increase in recorded instances of modern slavery in the past year.
These are the messages being delivered by a hard hitting campaign, to raise awareness of the hidden horrors of modern slavery, coordinated by communication professionals at Arden & GEM CSU. Launched on Friday 23 March, the campaign brought together key agencies and organisations including the NHS, West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Anti Slavery Network.
The launch included live performances by actors outside the Bullring and Grand Central, which took place using a transit van (often the vehicle of choice for people trafficking) and provided an immersive experience for the public.
Speaking about the health related issues surrounding modern slavery, NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group’s Chief Nurse, Carmel O’Brien, said: “Victims will often suffer from serious mental health concerns with trafficked people commonly experiencing anxiety or depression. Those forced to work long hours in physically demanding jobs in domestic, agriculture or manufacturing settings can result in a high incidence of physical injury. Sexual exploitation brings with it increased prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and also leads to ongoing mental health related problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.”
The campaign has already received coverage on ITV News Central, BBC Midlands Today and BBC Radio West Midlands, reaching almost 3 million people.
Further activity includes regular social media posts and a series of eight community events, in partnership with West Midlands Police, to help raise awareness with key communities and localities around Birmingham and surrounding areas.
The final tactic planned by the CSU team will be to send out ‘job advertisement’ posters to various organisations for them to display in their premises. These posters highlight the appalling conditions modern slaves find themselves in and aim to shock the public.
Find out more about the Engagement, Communications and Marketing teams other campaigns here.