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Myths and Facts about Modern Slavery

Together in Sussex is joining with the Mothers Union during October, to raise awareness of Modern Slavery.

Elle Weaver of Together in Sussex commented: 'Working with the Mothers Union is a great opportunity to spread awareness about Modern Slavery, which covers a wide range of abuse, including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and organ harvesting.'

Karen Hill, Mothers Union President commented: 'To be able to spread the word with Together in Sussex, is incredible; after all the more people who know about the signs of Modern Day Slavery the more we can stamp out this offence against humanity. The Mothers Union is asking all its members to tell one other person about modern slavery and ask that person to also tell one person'.

Victims can be any age, gender, nationality and ethnicity. Tricked or threatened into work, they feel unable to leave or report the crime through fear or intimidation. They may not even recognise themselves as a victim.

Modern Slavery is largely invisible unless you know what you are looking for. During October information, resources and tools can be found on the Together in Sussex website.

Working with the Mothers Union we can raise awareness and counter three myths about Modern Slavery.

Hidden in plain sight!

The Clewer has created this film to show people in the UK that modern slavery is happening near them. It might be in your nearest town or village, or even in your church. The film features Archbishop Justin Welby, newsreader Julie Etchingham, and a woman called Miriam. Miriam was trafficked to the UK to work as a domestic servant. She worked long hours with no pay. Her traffickers said that they 'owned' her. They even took her to church. No one noticed what Miriam was going through. We want to make sure that can't happen again. We invite you to use this film in your church, or with a local group, to learn how to spot the signs of modern slavery.

Myth 1: Modern slavery is not happening near me, so I don’t need to worry

Fact: It’s closer than you think! Modern Slavery is widespread in Sussex. Recent newspaper stories have highlighted examples. It takes a variety of forms. Sussex being a coastal county examples are widespread across the south coast.

In Uckfield, in September, Police raided a nail bar in Uckfield High Street, where the owner was accused of using forced labour.

'County lines' is a term used by police and partner agencies to refer to drug networks, both gangs and organised crime groups, from large urban areas such as London, who use children and young people and vulnerable adults to carry out illegal activity on their behalf.

The areas in Sussex most effected by the County Lines drug trade from London are the larger coastal towns, with established drugs markets that can be exploited locally, including Hastings, Eastbourne, Worthing, Bognor, and Brighton, but also towns such as Crawley.

From September 14 to September 19, officers in Sussex made 29 arrests and seized more than £15,000 worth of drugs, 47 mobile phones and 13 weapons, mainly knives.

In the same week, local officers visited 68 addresses where people were at risk of being 'cuckooed' to check on their safety. They also identified and took safeguarding action for five particularly vulnerable people who needed extra help and support from the police and local services.

In St Leonard’s and Hastings arrests were made when a locally-based employment agency had been employing mainly Romanian workers who had been charged for inadequate training and been charged excessive rent for poor accommodation and placed as staff in local care homes, where they were not paid the legal minimum wage.

Another St Leonard’s-based human trafficking gang, uncovered by the SE Regional Organised Crime Unit, was ordered by Woolwich Crown Court to pay back £326,000 for smuggling people from Iraq and Kurdistan into Britain. The thirteen-member gang were convicted of unlawful immigration and money laundering and received combined sentences of 45 years.

Downloadable examples

Modern Slavery examples in Sussex

Myth 2: I wouldn’t know what to look for

Fact: Modern Slavery is often hidden in plain sight. The signs aren’t always obvious but here are some you may notice:

  • do they look scruffy, malnourished or even injured?
  • are they acting anxious or unable to make eye contact?
  • are they working long hours, wearing unsuitable clothing or have the wrong equipment for the job?
  • is their accommodation overcrowded, poorly maintained? Are the curtains always closed?
  • are they picked up/dropped off at the same time and place every day?

Myth 3: I don’t know what to do about it

Fact: It’s simple to raise a concern: just contact the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700, if you recognise any of the above signs, to report a suspicion or seek advice.

You will always be taken seriously, and protection and support are available. The Helpline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service on 18001 101.

If you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Make Sussex Safer

You can help tackle modern slavery;

You can help catch those responsible;

You can help safeguard victims.

To help raise awareness click on the - We See You poster link below to download, print and display in your church and home?

We See You poster

Mothers Union prayer

Lord of the lost, we pray today for all those who are victims of modern slavery; people lured from their homes and families; people deceived while trying to find a better life; people who are desperate to trust anyone. Help us to be more vigilant and watchful; to be aware of those who may need our help, and those who do not know where help may lie.