Modern slavery

We're committed to helping victims of modern slavery.

At the 2017 AGM you voted overwhelmingly to champion a better way of doing business by tackling modern slavery.

What is modern slavery?

The UK Government defines modern slavery as including slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. Traffickers and slave drivers coerce, deceive and force individuals against their will into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

Is it a problem in the UK?

There are more human beings in conditions of slavery than ever before. In 2016 there were a total of 3,805 recorded victims of modern slavery found in the UK.

Victims of modern slavery need support to rebuild their lives. Central to this is the dignity that paid, freely chosen employment provides. Without this there is a real chance that they could fall back into the hands of those who have exploited them.

What we're doing to tackle modern slavery

We’re doing everything we can to make sure that slavery has no part in our supply chains. To achieve this we’ve put in place strong policies and we’re making sure they’re rigorously enforced. You can read all about our long standing approach to managing these risks, which includes a robust monitoring and auditing programme, in our Modern Slavery Statement.

What we’re doing for victims

In 2016 we formed a partnership with national charity City Hearts to develop our ’Bright Future’ programme. Bright Future provides a pathway to paid employment for victims of modern slavery, which includes a paid work placement in a Co-op store or site, followed by a non-competitive job interview. This year we’re also partnering with the Snowdrop Project, another charity who work to rehabilitate victims of modern slavery.

’Bright Future’ is a completely new approach, the first time a major UK business has offered work placements to victims of modern slavery. The people we’re working with have been through a terrible ordeal and we want to make sure that what we’re doing is right for them and makes a sustainable difference to their lives. We will share our learnings with other businesses later in 2017.

In the meantime, our goal for 2017 is to offer at least 30 people who have been rescued from slavery the opportunity of a paid work placement and a job in our business if they wish.

We will also be campaigning for UK businesses to do more in the fight against modern slavery, by calling on others to roll out the Bright Future model in their own operations.

What are the signs of modern slavery?

If everyone in the UK knows about modern slavery the better chance we have of preventing it happening – both in the UK and overseas. You can visit the modern slavery helpline website to learn more.

What you can do

Spot it and stop it. If you want to report a suspicion that you think may be modern slavery contact the modern slavery helpline. Your call will be dealt with confidentially.

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers to report a crime anonymously on 0800 555 111

Share - We want members to ask questions of every business they buy from about what has been done to seek out and prevent modern slavery in their supply chains.

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Find out more

Read our modern slavery pages

Read our modern slavery statement

Read our report on how the Co-op is continuing its long history of tackling modern slavery

Read our blog on modern slavery