St Nicholas of Tolentino Parish, Bristol hosted two events on Wednesday 6th February around the theme of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, with representatives from the Santa Marta Group, the Clewer Initiative, Unseen, Bishop Alastair Redfern (Former Anglican Bishop of Derby and Chair for the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Advisory Panel) and Avon and Somerset Police.
Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, here in the UK and abroad, where they are mistreated, abused, and overworked for the benefit of their oppressors.
Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, and slavery whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. The United Nations estimates that there are today 40 million enslaved people. globally; and there could be as many 140,000 in the UK.
The daytime event was for clergy and safeguarding representatives, both from the Diocese of Clifton and ecumenically, and the evening event was open to all, which was well attended and received.
Both events brought to attention the unique and privileged role of the parish in tackling the oppression and dehumanization of Adults and Children that takes place in the form of Domestic Servitude, Sexual Exploitation, Drug Dealing (County Lines), Nail Bars, Agriculture and Fruit Picking, and Car Washes.
It is not just a problem that affects our large cities but is prevalent in smaller towns and villages.
This issue calls us as a parish and as a Diocese to action; for we must make it our responsibility to be informed about modern slavery, how to spot the signs and how to go about reporting concerns. We are called to work with the authorities to combat human trafficking and slavery, and also to find ways of supporting and caring for survivors of such brutality and inhumanity. This is echoed by Pope Francis who said in 2013:
“Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free victims and stop this crime that’s become ever more aggressive, that threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society…”
We thank all who spoke and took part in the day, and we pray that much fruit will bear from this this landmark event in our diocese.
NCR, Pope: Human trafficking is crime against humanity, must be stopped Dec 12, 2013 https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/francis-chronicles/pope-human-trafficking-crime-against-humanity-must-be-stopped