Staff and volunteers at night shelters are being urged to look out for signs of exploitation among clients in a campaign launched by the Church of England’s anti-slavery initiative.

More than 1,000 posters and other materials aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of modern slavery amongst homeless people are to be distributed to night shelters across the country by The Clewer Initiative, the CofE’s response to modern slavery.

“Share concerns”

The Let’s Talk initiative is encouraging night shelters and other outreach services such as soup kitchens to share concerns with the Modern Slavery Helpline or local support services.

Signs of slavery

The signs of modern slavery among homeless people could include:

  • Unusual anxiety about people in positions of authority and extreme fear of being watched
  • Working for no or little pay
  • Working in the most common sectors for modern slavery such as construction and hand car washes
  • Not being allowed to leave their place of work
  • Having no control of their ID
  • Being approached on the street, outside a shelter or at drop-in by someone offering work
  • Signs of physical abuse or untreated injuries

The Let’s Talk initiative includes a poster illustrating the typical journey of a homeless person trafficked into exploitation.

There are also guidance notes for project managers and volunteers in night shelters on the steps they can take to safeguard their clients from this danger. These include warning clients of the dangers of modern slavery.

The Rt Revd Dr Alastair Redfern, chair of The Clewer Initiative, said: “Time and time again in our work around the country we meet volunteers and project leaders who have encountered modern slavery and have either not recognised it, or not known what to do about it.

“With rising numbers of homeless people on our streets, it is even more important that we are able to recognise the signs. With the Let’s Talk resources we will equip the church to understand what modern slavery looks like, and how they can respond to protect the vulnerable.”

Link between slavery and homelessness

Lys Ford from the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) said: “The GLAA has become increasingly aware of the link between modern slavery and homelessness.

“We are convinced that by sharing more information between organisations we can find victims earlier and stop perpetrators faster. The Let’s Talk resources from The Clewer Initiative are a great way to get this message across and we hope those running winter night shelters will use them and take action on this issue.”
For more information and to download resources, click here.  

  • Walk for Freedom is a global fundraising and awareness event, hoping to rally tens of thousands of people, in hundreds of cities across the world. Each step seeks to disrupt the existence of slavery. Organised by international charity A21, the Walk for Freedom is happening in Falmouth on October 19th from Events Square on Discovery Quay from 10.00am. for. ore information go to the Churches Together in Cornwall page here.