Diocesan press releases

Modern Slavery demands our attention to tackle it, says Bishop of St Asaph

The Bishop of St Asaph is urging delegates to an anti-slavery event in St Asaph Cathedral to work hard to rid Wales of slavery once and for all.

In a recorded video message to an awareness raising event on 28 October, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron says he is shocked that slavery still exists in Wales today, despite the efforts of abolitionists two hundred years ago, and encourages everyone to find out how they can spot signs of modern slavery in their communities.

The event has been organised by Haven of Light, Conwy Voluntary Services Council (CVSC) and the Diocese of St Asaph and will bring together local charities working to tackle modern slavery, representatives of the police and businesses running projects to help those to escape slavery.

More than 100 delegates have signed up to come along and find out more about what modern slavery and human trafficking is and how they can recognise the signs in their local community.  There will be opportunities to talk to those involved directly in helping people affected by modern slavery and information offered on agencies already tackling the issue in North Wales.

Bishop Gregory’s video message will open the event.  In it he says: “I believe that the issue being tackled is very important and demands our attention. When the social reformers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century worked for the abolition of slavery, and committed the UK to work against slavery in all its forms internationally, they believed they were ridding the world of a very pernicious evil.

“Often motived by their Christian faith, these reformers believed in the absolute dignity of every human being as an equal human being before God and they believed that the stand they took was one of simple human, natural justice.  They would have been shocked, as we should be shocked, to discover that 200 years later, slavery still exists.  And not just in some undeveloped corner of the developing word but it exists today in north Wales. I hope you, with me, are shocked by that fact and are determined to act in order to rid the world and to rid Wales of this evil once and for all.”

He goes on to urge delegates to work hard “…to ensure that no single human being today is put at a disadvantage by the oppression of another and that slavery really can be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

One of the partners in the event is Colwyn Bay based, Haven of Light.  It’s director, Ali Ussery, said: “This will be an important time to learn from professionals who are leading the way in the fight against modern slavery and exploitation, and to think about how you might be able to get involved!  Modern Slavery is a growing international crime that treats men, women and children as commodities and we can take a stand and make a difference!”

The event at St Asaph Cathedral comes after a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services said victims of modern slavery are being let down “at every stage” by police in England and Wales.  The study, which looked at 10 police forces, found some examples of good policing – but said that was the exception, rather than the norm.

Earlier this month, the UK’s anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland said the number of people caught up in slavery in the UK was considerably higher than the current estimate of 13,000.  He suggested that the “true number is in the tens of thousands” and welcomed the involvement of faith groups, including churches to be the “eyes and ears” of local communities to identify signs of modern slavery and to support its victims.

The event at St Asaph Cathedral will hear from professionals and charity workers who are involved in finding those who are being exploited, caring for them and bringing criminals to justice. This includes:

  • Anne Read – Director for Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery – ‎The Salvation Army UK
  • Beth Haven – Haven of Light
  • Representatives from North Wales Police
  • Mick Duthie, Deputy Director, Santa Marta Group
  • Paul Gerrard, Group Policy and Campaigns Director, CO-OP
  • Tate Johnston – Abolitionist and founder of Freecember and Freedom Fortnight

To come along to this FREE event on 28 October at 12pm, St Asaph Cathedral please register via the website http://www.havenoflight.uk.  #modernslaverynorthwales hash tag will be used throughout the event.

Notes to editors:

Haven of Light is a UK non-profit organisation focusing on prevention, awareness raising and support for survivors of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking in North Wales.

The Diocese of St Asaph is one of six dioceses making up the Church in Wales, an independent Province of the Anglican Communion.  It stretches from Llandudno in the North West to Newtown in the South East and includes more than 220 churches and over 6,000 regular attenders.  The Diocese of St Asaph has a presence in almost every community.

Conwy Voluntary Services Council (CVSC) is the umbrella body set up to develop and promote voluntary and community action in the County of Conwy.  It works in partnership with other voluntary services councils in other local authority areas.