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Modern Slavery

More than 200 years after the abolition of slavery there are still an estimated over 40 million men, women and children are trapped in modern slavery today. No one really knows just how many people are trafficked and enslaved in this country, but the World Health Organisation estimates it at 136,000! The statues of the past can be hidden but let’s not become statues of today, innate from moving forward to free the enslaved here and throughout the world.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby says of slavery,

‘William Wilberforce convinced his generation that slavery was a sin. That belief has not changed. The sin lies in our ignorance to its existence around us’.

The Clewer Initiative forms part of the Church of England’s approach to eradicating modern slavery. Funded by the Clewer Sisters, an Anglican order of nuns founded in 1852 they helped marginalised, mainly young women, by providing shelter and teaching them a trade.

The Clewer Initiative’s aim is to enable The Church of England to work in partnership with wider church networks to develop strategies to detect modern slavery in their communities and help provide victim support and care.

Nationally, it involves developing a network of practitioners committed to sharing models of best practice and providing evidenced based data to resource the Church's national engagement with statutory and non-statutory bodies.

The Clewer Initiative is committed to building up links with partners and is represented on the Together in Sussex partnership. We are able to resource these links by our reach into Church of England parishes and local communities allowing a cascade of modern slavery information.

Modern slave traders deal, buy and sell men, women and children for the labour, construction, agriculture, sexual, domestic, criminal markets. People are trafficked and enslaved for financial gain because slavery is a high profit, low risk crime and serious organised criminality sits firmly behind it. Slaves, here in the UK, today! In 2020? how did they find themselves in this unseen marketplace? Lured by promises of work, a better life, only to find they are shackled invisibly to inscrutable beings. Poverty, gender, inequality, lack of education, opportunities, war; a dream of a different life!

Why stay? Threat of violence to themselves, families, traps them in this stall of horrors. Even if not completely physically controlled by their slave master, a mistrust of authority may stop them from going to the police. So, what can we do? You and me?

Go to The Clewer Initiative web page and to our you tube channel (

Watch the video clips, read the articles, sign up for the newsletter. Download the Safe Car Wash App to your mobile. Display one of our posters in your workplace, church, community centre. When you see, when you feel a situation isn’t right, telephone the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000121700 ( emergency police 999), tell of your concerns, if it doesn’t feel right it, it probably isn’t!

Let’s work in partnership, together, to be able to say,

In Plain Sight, WE SEE YOU! And we pray

Heavenly Father,

who sees the unseen and notices the unnoticed?

help each of us to hear the Hidden Voices of those

who pray for release from slavery and exploitation,

so that we may give ourselves more fully to the service of your saving love,

and be strengthened together as agents of your healing and hope,

through Jesus Christ,

who himself came to serve as a slave,

to bring freedom and grace to all.


The Rt Revd Dr Alastair Redfern, Chair of The Clewer Initiative.

You can find out what is happening in Sussex here: or contact Elle Weaver, Development Manager and Head of Wellbeing & Mental Health

What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. Micah 6:8