A Preston organisation is working to help people spot the signs of modern slavery.Advertisement
Preston Abolition Group is supporting the efforts of Hope for Justice, an international human rights organisation dedicated to combating all forms of human trafficking.
Hope for Justice has a Lancashire team of two community engagement specialists who help identify potential victims of human trafficking and/or modern slavery, and a trainer who offers awareness training to any organisation working closely with local communities.
Lilyana Slavova, Community Engagement Specialist for Hope for Justice, said: “We acknowledge the importance of tackling modern slavery at a local level.
“People are being coerced into many forms of exploitation in Preston through physical, financial or psychological control. This can include being forced to work for little or no pay in logistics, food production and agriculture, as well as nail bars, restaurants, and car washes.
“Victims are also often coerced into sexual exploitation, forced criminality and domestic servitude.”
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There have been 139 recorded modern slavery crimes in Lancashire for the 12-month period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, showing an increase of over 50 per cent from 2018.
Many of these crimes happen in broad daylight and some of the victims are not always identified via the official routes.
Hope for Justice is therefore aiming to mobilise Preston residents to join the fight against modern slavery by offering training for charities and community groups working with vulnerable individuals, as well as for local authorities, police, healthcare professionals and social workers, groups and individuals to spot the signs of this abhorrent crime.
Local residents can report any concerns they have about someone being a victim directly to the two community engagement specialists.
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Hannah Mitchell, Lead Community Engagement Specialist at the Hope for Justice Lancashire hub, says there are behaviours to look out for.
She said: “We all may encounter people who are in modern slavery.
“They might appear ordinary, but look closer and you might spot more worrying traits such as being under the control of someone else and reluctant to interact with others, not having access to their own ID, having untreated health conditions or being dropped off and collected for work always in the same way, especially at unusual times, i.e. very early or late at night.
“The Lancashire hub helps to build bridges of trust with potential victims, giving them the option to disclose to an independent organisation, and help them access the support they need.
“We encourage everyone who may have spotted those signs to reach out to us, even if they’re not sure if modern slavery is involved or not.”
If you think you have spotted the signs of modern slavery, email email@example.com.
More information about Hope for Justice and modern slavery can be found on the Hope for Justice website.
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