Mission Team Leader addresses national Modern Slavery Gathering

David Maggs, Mission Team Leader at the Diocese of Bath and Wells, this week addressed the third National Gathering of the Clewer Initiative, a national programme to help the Church of England’s 42 dioceses work to support victims of modern slavery and identify the signs of exploitation in their local communities. Bath and Wells was one of the first Diocese to sign up to the initiative.

David discussed how the diocese is using the Clewer Initiatives resources ‘Hidden Voices’. The resources are designed to help churches and communities respond to modern slavery. He illustrated how courses run in Bath and Wells are a great example of local Church mobilisation for the Common Good.

The Clewer Initiative is driven by the belief that, “the tools to end modern slavery already exist within the local community and that the Church, which is present in all communities and at the heart of many, has a primary responsibility in leading these efforts.”

Caroline Barnard is  from the Clewer Initiative, “We were really pleased to have a contribution from David at our latest national gathering. Thanks to the brilliant work of the Diocese of Bath and Wells team, supported by a voluntary national trainer, in using our Hidden Voices course, communities in Somerset are learning about modern slavery and taking action to raise awareness of it in their area. Those present at the day were inspired to hear the lessons he has learnt so far, and the results that are already being seen in parishes. We are excited to continue working together to bring an end to modern slavery in the Diocese of Bath and Wells.”

Hidden Voices courses in Bath and Wells were run in conjunction with local community groups. These successful sessions are aimed at educating people in the basic facts and figures of modern slavery, and giving them the skills to spot signs of modern slavery and help prevent vulnerable people from being trafficked or exploited.

David who has worked on social justice for 25 years told the Lambeth gathering that, “Hidden Voices is one of the best tools I have used in those 25 years – the journey the group goes on in only around 8-10 hours of contact time is truly remarkable. Doing it over several sessions means people can reflect on what they are seeing and the conversations they have had.”

Hidden Voices courses ran in Bridgwater and Minehead. David shared the impact the sessions are already having;  In Bridgwater 32 actions including a Car Wash action day & a stall at a church event for 400 people have already been established; A member of the group has produced a bespoke booklet, a choir at the town’s major community festival will include a new song about slavery in their repertoire.

Summing up David reflected on the successes achieved so far,“I was reminded of Margaret Mead quote: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. There are other ways of bringing change – but for Modern Slavery, Hidden Voices seems a very good way forward. “

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