New Co-op research underlines need for new slavery bill

08 September 2017

  • Two thirds of Brits would support a move to extend the level of support for rescued victims and lengthen the period of time from 45 days to a year
  • Co-op playing a key role in offering paid employment to victims of modern slavery through its Bright Future programme.
  • Over a third (35%) of Brits are unaware that modern slavery exists
  • Most Brits who do know what Modern Slavery is see it as a serious crime and believe more needs to be done to support victims

The Co-op is currently working to support Lord McColl’s bid to change the law through a Private Members Bill coming to the House of Lords today (8 September), which would increase the level of support for rescued victims and lengthen the period of time from 45 days to a year.

Much of the current support provided to victims expires after just 45 days, and new research from the Co-op reveals two thirds of Brits (66%) believe it is too short a period for genuine rehabilitation and rebuilding, and would support a move to extend the level of support from 45 days to 12 months, peaking at 71% amongst 25-34 year olds.

Commenting Lord McColl said:

“Sadly, many victims of modern slavery find themselves homeless and destitute when their short stay in a specialist safe house comes to an end. Each of these people has experienced terrible exploitation which most of us cannot imagine. We can and must do better to help victims recover from their traumatic experiences and help them to rebuild their lives. I am glad to know that the majority of British people agree.

“My Bill aims to ensure that victims will be guaranteed support for the short term crisis period when they first escape and for one year afterwards as they create a new and positive future for themselves. I hope the Government will give it their full support.”

Paul Gerrard, Co-op’s Group Policy and Campaigns Director said:

“It’s encouraging to learn that there is compassion for the plight of victims and a clear backing to extend the period of support provided to them.

“Ending modern slavery is a key priority for the Co-op and we’re delighted to be supporting Lord McColl’s private members Bill, whilst playing a key role in offering paid employment to victims through our Bright Future programme.

“The PM has, quite rightly, identified modern slavery as ‘the great human rights issue of our time’ and has committed to stamp it out. This Bill is a crucial opportunity for the Government to build on what it has done and deliver justice for victims in the UK. We call on Theresa May to support it.”

The study also revealed that one in five Brits (18%) are unaware that modern slavery exists, with the nation’s awareness of modern slavery hugely mixed - less than half (44%) of under 35s know about modern slavery or understand what it is, whilst it has never crossed the minds of one in three Brits, meanwhile, one quarter of the adult population have heard of modern slavery but are not sure what it is.

The good news is, amongst those who have heard of modern slavery, 85% of Brits see it as a serious crime - though one in twenty don’t and a further one in ten are unaware if it is or not – of those that do, they feel more needs to be done to support victims.

Understanding of what support is provided to victims of modern slavery is, however, lacking. More than a third (38%) say they have no idea what support is provided, whilst one in three (36%) believe psychological support and rehab is provided, 22% think that financial support to help with housing and living costs is provided and 19% believe that long term support gaining paid employment is provided.

The Co-op already provides support for victims through the first employment programme of its kind. The Co-op and anti-trafficking charity City Hearts launched 'Bright Future' in March this year giving 30 survivors a four-week work placement within our food business, with the opportunity to turn this into a full-time job. So far, nine men and women have accepted jobs at our Co-op stores or warehouses.

The Co-op is committed to adopting practical interventions to help reduce modern slavery as well as doing all it can to raise awareness of the issue amongst its members, customers and suppliers. NGO's, such as The Salvation Army work hard to ensure they prepare survivors so they can move on safely by providing additional support such as drop ins through their own charitable funds to make up for when the statutory support has finished.

Media Contact:

Sarah Dawson
Corporate PR & Media Manager
Sarah.dawson2@coop.co.uk
M: 07702506126

Note to editors

Research conducted One Poll questioning 2,012 UK adults between August 25th and 29th 2017 *Link to Theresa Mays comments - https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/g20-summit-july-2017-prime-ministers-press-statement