An innovative campaign to crack down on modern slavery in West Midlands communities has highlighted the issue and the signs of modern slavery and helped increase reporting of the hidden crime.
The campaign was run by NHS Arden & GEM Commissioning Support Unit, in partnership with West Midlands Police and Liberate working with local businesses and organisations.
The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness of modern slavery and the exploitation of vulnerable people in the West Midlands, to help them identify the signs and together stamp out modern slavery. Since 2017, the campaign has reached over 3 million people.
The National Crime Agency reports 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. Despite the increase in reporting, many of the offences that occur in communities still go unreported with the general public not recognising the various signs of trafficking.
The next phase of the campaign will target ‘frontline professionals’ in local job centres, healthcare and banking sectors. Today, Friday 18th October, an event for local professionals is taking place where a local theatre company, Rah Rah, will showcase their ‘My Mind is Free’ production. The production uses a mixture of imaginative physical theatre and skilful multi–role playing to tell the interlinked stories of four people trafficked to and within the UK and their horrifying tales of abuse, exploitation and enslavement. Nominated for best stage play by the Anti-Trafficking Foundation in 2016 and Amnesty Edinburgh Festival: Freedom of Expression Award 2017.
In addition, Migrant Help, will run an interactive workshop highlighting the difficulties and barriers when dealing with modern slavery victims. There will also be a question and answer session for attendees to ask any questions they have.
Following the launch event, the campaign will go out directly to the organisations with additional interactive sessions at staff events to ensure ‘frontline professionals’ know the signs and symptoms of modern slavery in their sector and how to report their concerns.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson said:
“Modern slavery is a hidden crime lurking in the shadows of society. This campaign has demonstrated what can be achieved when we begin to bring issues such like modern slavery into the light.
“We are seeing an increase in reporting of hidden crimes, but we know that there is still much more work to be done to ensure that all of us can recognise the signs of modern slavery and how to report it.”
The UK Modern Slavery Helpline is available 24/7 to offer confidential, advice and support for any victim, statutory agency, business, or member of the public regarding modern slavery suspicions or concerns. Trained Helpline Advisers are available to discuss potential signs of modern slavery and discuss options for callers or victims in need.
Calls are free and the number to call is 08000 121 700 or people can contact the team online at www.modernslaveryhelpline.org/