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Innovative new workshops will help frontline workers respond to cases of modern slavery

The University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation has helped launch a new series of innovative resources, designed to help frontline workers respond to individual cases of modern slavery.

This Sunday, 18 October, is Anti-Slavery Day, a day appointed by Parliament to raise awareness of the need to eradicate all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation.

To mark the day this year, the Institute in partnership with The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre has announced new resources and workshops. These have been led by a team at the Institute, in collaboration with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership and Fresca Group.

Dr Alicia Kidd, from the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull, said: “We want frontline workers, wherever they are in Britain, to be prepared for complex cases of modern slavery in order to provide effective wrap around support that best meets the needs of those affected.

“We created these workshops so that local communities across the UK can create their own well-informed and coordinated response to modern slavery cases based on the needs in their region.”

Modern slavery is estimated to affect tens of thousands of people across the UK, with over 10,000 people officially identified as potential victims by the authorities in 2019.

Children and adults get coerced, trapped and exploited in a wide range of forms of exploitation, from forced labour in sectors such as farming, construction or hospitality, to sexual exploitation, domestic work or forced criminality.

No local area in the UK is free from these extreme forms of exploitation.

Although the general awareness of modern slavery has risen in recent years in the UK, it’s often hard for frontline practitioners to be able to respond to different and often very complex individual cases of people trapped and exploited.

The new workshops are designed to change that, providing innovative solutions for local authorities and partners to develop their own practical responses.

Rather than relying on presentations, the workshops are based on simulated realistic scenarios, taking into account complex individual factors for the people affected, as well as limitations in the capacity of those required to intervene.

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Murray Hunt, Director of the Modern Slavery PEC, said: “We are pleased to be able to mark Anti-Slavery Day 2020 by making available the product of one of our first projects.

“I am delighted that it’s so focused on making a very practical impact for people affected by modern slavery at the local level in the UK.

“The resources that we are making available today demonstrate the Modern Slavery PEC’s commitment to collaboration and to putting the people affected by modern slavery at the heart of our work.”

Five separate workshops have been developed for front-line practitioners such as the police, safeguarding teams, housing teams, fire and rescue and health services, as well as for NGOs and community organisations, businesses and recruitment agencies.

Here are examples of some of the scenarios frontline workers may be faced with:

Scenario 1: Multi-agency response

  • The local authority receives a complaint about a vermin infestation in a private house. They arrive to discover it’s a very run-down House of Multi Occupancy (HMO). In the house, there are four adults and two children. One person speaks limited English and explains that he was brought here three weeks ago. Four of the occupants arrived a week after he did. The other occupant was already living there, though he appears very unwell, so he hasn’t spoken to him properly. The man speaking tells you he works in a recycling plant.

Scenario 2: Business

  • One of your staff members comes to you with concerns about one of the workers. He seems to be wearing the same clothes every day and doesn’t seem to be washing. The HR checks show that this worker is an agency worker. You check the sheet that logs all the workers’ hours. It says the worker in question works exactly 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. Looking through the paperwork, it says the same thing every week for the past three months – when the worker started. However, you have been on site for the previous two weekends and remember the individual working on both Saturdays.

Scenario 3: Victim care pathways

  • You receive a call concerning 14-year-old Jamie who has had a consistent history of behavioural problems within school. These problems have resulted in exclusions and eventually a transfer to the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) where his behavioural problems continued. Jamie has aggressive and physically violent behaviour and there are rumours among students that he is a drug dealer, though some students have been dismissive of this because he is so scruffy and sometimes smelly.

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