There are an estimated 13,000 people living in the UK as slaves. Birmingham alone has seen a 100% increase in recorded instances of modern slavery in the past year.
Modern slavery is occurring every day in our high streets, homes, factories and fields. Our research discovered the general public are not very aware of modern slavery or how to report it.
There is no typical victim of modern slavery; they can be any age, gender, class, nationality or ethnicity. Anyone can be affected and, more often than not, they are hidden in plain sight – working in nail bars, food outlets, car washes, factories or our fields.
In response to the rising incidences in Birmingham, we designed a hard hitting campaign with our partners in Liberate – this involved key agencies and organisations in the West Midlands, including the West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Fire Service and the West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network.
Robin Brierley, Chair of the West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network, said: “Human trafficking and modern slavery should not be happening in 2018 in Birmingham, West Midlands or Nationally but the fact is, that it is. Victims must be at the centre of all our work and that it’s the duty of us all, statutory sector, businesses and the public to report suspicions immediately. I don’t believe this is a hidden crime now, we just need to know what to look out for and the signs of trafficking and what to do if we do suspect a person may be a victim. The public should call the modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700 to get help, report a suspicion or seek advice.”
To achieve maximum impact, the campaign was launched in Birmingham city centre, followed by a programme of smaller events across Birmingham and Solihull.
The campaign needed to grab the public’s attention, therefore we decided to use mock job adverts to highlighting the incredibly poor conditions that modern slaves could experience, whilst they are forced to work in common trades such as nail salons and car washes.
To raise awareness and help to #stopmodernslavery a live theatre performance was staged outside the Bullring and Grand Central East Entrance (opposite the TK Maxx). A van was branded with our ‘job adverts’ and pull up banners worked incredibly well to attract passers-by.
The performance was a powerful immersive experience held inside a transit van, depicting the harsh realities of how many victims are transported and forced into modern slavery.
Detective Superintendent Nick Walton, West Midlands Police said: “It’s really important that we work together with the public to awareness of the signs of modern slavery and urge them to report anything suspicious so we can take action. The Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 is there to help but if you feel someone is in immediate danger please call 999.”
By designing a campaign that grabbed the public’s attention and a live performance in Birmingham City Centre, the campaign received extensive media coverage and reached more than three million people, thereby raising awareness of modern slavery.
The campaign was featured on ITV News Central, BBC Midlands Today and BBC Radio West Midlands. Media coverage included interviews with a trafficking victim and spokespeople from Liberate and the CCG. Pictured is CCG safeguarding team member Melody Bridges being interviewed by ITV reporters.
Our thunderclap on social media reached over 800,000 people
Informed by the successes of this campaign- West Midlands Police has undertaken a West Midlands wide roll out of the campaign, including an additional 20 community outreach events which are currently being held across the region.