Church of England anti-slavery initiative launches at Lambeth Palace

26 October 2017

Bishop Alastair Redfern, Bishop of Derby and Chair of the Clewer Initiative, speaking at the launch. © The Clewer Initiative and Rodycloud Photography

The Clewer Initiative, which was set up to engage the Church of England in fighting modern slavery and human trafficking, was launched last week at Lambeth Palace.

The initiative has been endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May. The Prime Minister said, “Modern slavery is a barbaric crime which destroys the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society. I value the work that the Clewer Initiative will be doing to enable the Church of England dioceses and wider church networks to develop strategies to tackle modem slavery.”

The launch brought together representatives from UK Parliament, Church of England dioceses and UK charities working to combat modern slavery. A new video, titled ‘We See You’, was also released, to share stories and raise awareness:

In the video Archbishop Justin Welby said, “Freedom is something that we take for granted, but it is the gift of God, it is the purpose of God. Those who purposefully constrain, confine and traffic and enslave people will face the judgement of God for their terrible sins … But we can change it – we can change it so easily, so quickly. We can set people free, set our society and nation free from the scourge of slavery simply by removing our blindfolds and acting on what we see.”

A number of dioceses are already signed up to take part in the training provided by the Clewer Initiative. Earlier in October the Diocese of Portsmouth held a training session with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, which protects vulnerable and exploited workers in a number of sectors. The training focused particularly on spotting the signs of modern slavery in the shipping industry.

Later this month, the Clewer Initiative will hold a training day in central London to help people to spot the signs of labour exploitation in hand car washes and how to report cases and support victims.

To celebrate the commissioning of The Clewer Initiative each Diocese will be sent a candle. During the service attendees asked God to bless the candles, and use them to remind Dioceses to pray for our work, and for those who are trapped in modern slavery.

The Anglican Alliance is working with the Clewer Initiative to promote its training and resources, and share learning on anti-human trafficking programmes and tackling modern slavery across the Anglican Communion.