Bishop of Winchester appoints new modern slavery lead to tackle human trafficking and exploitation
The Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin, has appointed the Reverend Edwina Fennemore as the Diocese of Winchester’s adviser on Modern Slavery. Edwina will support the local Church’s efforts to help tackle human trafficking and exploitation throughout the wider region.
The Reverend Edwina will advise on anti-modern slavery across the two dioceses of Winchester and Portsmouth. The role will involve working closely with organisations in the region as part of the Modern Slavery Partnership for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, which helps to identify and support victims of slavery and bring the perpetrators to justice, and the Clewer Initiative, which aims to mobilise the Church to help end modern slavery. Edwina will help raise awareness of slavery among clergy and congregations in churches across the diocese, enabling them to spot the key signs of exploitation and how to report it.
Shockingly, in 2018, 144 people in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were identified as potential victims of trafficking. Yet, the true impact of modern slavery is greater even than these alarming figures. Many more adults and children will be living in exploitative circumstances but are unable to seek help due to the threat of violence or death from perpetrators.
Labour exploitation is the most common form of modern slavery for both adults and children. Victims are forced to work long hours in harsh and unsafe conditions, while living in dirty, cramped and overcrowded accommodation. Sexual exploitation and forced criminality are also common, as human traffickers and criminal gangs take advantage of the vulnerable. The perpetrators control their victims through a range of methods. This includes withholding victims’ passports, forced drug and alcohol dependency, restricting contact with the outside world, emotional and physical abuse, and threats of violence or death to themselves or family members.
The Reverend Edwina Fennemore, the Diocese of Winchester’s Liaison Lead against Modern Slavery, said:
“Victims of modern slavery are often reluctant to seek help from the police or other professionals due to their very vulnerable circumstances. Churches can offer a safe place where they can turn, and it is vital that clergy, members of our congregations and the wider public are able to identify victims and help them access the care and protection they so desperately need.
“As a faith community we have a concern for anyone who is used as a commodity, is dehumanised and has their dignity removed. We recognise that all people have value and worth in God’s sight and we need to ensure this is reflected in the Church’s commitment to assist in ending this exploitative crime. This crime is happening within and across our communities. It is important that we understand how to see and respond to what is hidden in plain sight.”
Kate Davis, Coordinator of the Modern Slavery Partnership for Hampshire said:
“Our Partnership has four main objectives; to raise awareness of modern slavery, to combat modern slavery by working in partnership, to support victims and to pursue perpetrators. We rely on our partnership organisations, including the Diocese of Winchester, to back up this crucial work. The support of the Diocese and other faith groups is vital in helping us reach the most vulnerable members of society, so that we can tackle this heinous crime. The safe car wash app is a fantastic example of how faith groups have contributed in this area, and what is possible with collaboration. It has already enabled exploitative practices within the car wash industry to be identified and targeted.
“Modern slavery does not discriminate. Victims can be of any age, gender and from any cultural background. So, it is only by working together that we can hope to achieve the Partnership’s aims of making the county of Hampshire a supportive place for victims and a hostile place for perpetrators.”
The Right Reverend Dr Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester said:
“Modern slavery is a terrible and distressing crime. As a Diocese, we have a commitment to raising awareness and combating exploitation across our communities in Hampshire and East Dorset. With Edwina’s help, we will develop our understanding of modern slavery to help us put an end to it in our communities.
"Jesus challenged violence and injustice of all kinds. He teaches us to love one another, to care for our neighbours who are suffering and in need, and to speak up for the voiceless. Modern slavery exists at all levels from the local to the global and as part of our Diocesan commitment to Prophetic Global Citizenship we have an important role to play in eradicating this injustice.”