Modern slavery

Modern slavery art montage


Hidden Voices Somerset (HVS) is facilitated by the Diocese of Bath and Wells in partnership with The Clewer Initiative, it is a local response to Modern Slavery and all forms of exploitation. The primary focus is building asset-based community resilience through grassroots local groups – already established in Sedgemoor, Minehead and Chard, who themselves are training new church and community groups, businesses and schools using clear and consistent Apps, tools and resources provided by The Clewer Initiative, to identify and report modern slavery and exploitation.

The project has two key elements, the provision of Victim Support and building of an effective, self-sustaining Anti-Slavery Network across Somerset.

Hidden Voices Somerset explained

Official figures show 62 victims across Somerset applied for statutory support through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in the year to March 2020. Analysis of National figures indicate that 90-95 per cent of victims do not wish to enter the NRM when offered the opportunity to do so, indicating a potential existence of 900 current victims across Somerset.

HVS has developed relationships with voluntary and statutory organisations, and after cross-agency consultation are running a six month pilot (1st October 2020 – 31st March 2021) Victim Support project for victims and those at risk. The project will be carried out in partnership with The Clewer Initiative (the national Church of England’s anti-slavery programme) and the National Victim Support Helpline.

How the support process works

Referrals can be made 24/7 by anyone to the National Victim Support Helpline – initial contact point, and onward referral mechanism will be the HVS Project Co-ordinator.

A team of two core volunteers will be assigned to each referred victim, and will initiate the services required. Where appropriate they will contact specialist local organisations for support e.g. addiction issues, and will have access to a range of national specialists via Clewer networks.

The aim is for each individual to be given an initial supported space following their referral. The longer term engagement with them will depend on their legal status. Where possible, we hope they will become integrated within, and supported by, the local community to enable a consistent and secure recovery with a safety net, with the ambition of eventually being able to determine their own future, securing safe employment and housing.

Who to contact

Charlie Peer, Head of Mission Support and Ministry Development