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As part of our social value programme delivery for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, GL events UK seeks to develop a stronger understanding of the issues which affect our charity partners and their beneficiaries. GL events is proud to partner with these impactful organisations one of which is Jericho, who, through their Equiano Plus project, provide long-term sustained support for survivors of Modern Slavery.

While the National Referral Mechanism is a government framework for identifying and providing statutory support for victims and potential victims, the scale of the issues facing many of these survivors, necessitates the intervention of other agencies such as Equiano Plus, which are able to offer more long-term sustained support.

Louise Gore who is Jericho’s manager for the Equiano Project explains further:

“Equiano offers post-exploitation solutions that support victims more holistically and for longer time periods, that not only provide victims with skills and help to re-build their confidence in order to re-enter mainstream society, but also reduce the vulnerabilities that leave them at risk of future re-exploitation. In practice, Equiano supports victims by placing them in voluntary roles or paid work within Jericho’s social enterprises, depending on the individual’s interests. For example, the Woodshack, ReUsers or one of their cleaning services such as Miracle Laundry. Also, social events and art therapy are encouraged for victims to begin healing and building friendships in a safe environment.”

The GL events UK Leadership Team received a training session with Louise recently, examining how Victims end up in the cycle of Modern Slavery, the impacts that this has on the victims, and what signs of modern slavery are, which might act as “red flags” for reporting suspected instances. With an emphasis on how prevalent this issue is in the UK, Louise gave an insightful presentation of why it is so important for people to develop awareness of the examples of modern slavery within business and the wider community. It is found that on average female survivors will need more support than males, with 70% of victims being female worldwide, and 30% in the UK. Louise revealed that there are a staggering 41 million people in some form of modern slavery worldwide, and 136,000 people in the UK, so it is clear that this problem needs serious attention.

Regrettably, less than 11,000 potential victims were identified in the UK in 2020, less than 15% of the total number, although this is still a 50% increase since 2018. Similarly, the cost to the UK economy is immense. Second only to homicide, the cost of modern slavery per individual is £300k. So it is clearly crucial for victims to be more visible in society and provided with the help they need to avoid them falling back into the system and this is where organisations like Jericho are so important in contributing to a solution to the problem.

Rachel Baker, GL events UK’s CSR Lead reflects on why training of this sort is important for GL events: “Like so many businesses of our size, GL events has a legal requirement to issue a Modern Slavery Statement, following the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act of 2015. But in reality, there is so much more that businesses can do.  It is essential that we are vigilant to signs of slavery in our own organisation AND our supply chain and have robust procurement processes in place to ensure that our supply chain is equally vigilant. But beyond that, by working with organisations like Jericho who assist victims to get back into “normal life”, we have the opportunity to offer work placements/employments which model good employment, while advising on employment rights – helping to prevent future exploitation. In fact, through our social value programme for The Games, we plan to offer a number of positive work placements within our Project team, and our wider supply chain, to candidates signposted by several of our charity partners.  And we are currently working with Equiano and hoping to find placements for a number of Survivors of Modern Slavery.”

The Equiano Project is also passionate about using its awareness training, as a catalyst for change, as Louise Gore concludes; “As a relatively small organisation, it is so important that we spread awareness and, with the help of others, widen and develop the support networks available to victims of modern slavery across the UK.  If there is one message that I want people to take away with them from our training it is exactly how prevalent modern slavery is right here in the UK.  136,000 is a big number and a lot of people to be under the radar of society. Every time we deliver training to a group or organisation, we are increasing the number of eyes which we are opening to the problem, and the number of people who could potentially help to solve it.”