The Co-op Group is calling on people to support a new bill, currently being considered by Parliament, to increase the support given to the victims of modern slavery.
Introduced by Lord McColl, the private member’s bill calls for increasing the period of time during which victims receive support from 45 days to a year.
It is estimated that modern slavery has between 10,000-13,000 potential victims in the UK, and 45 million around the world.
The Co-op Group is already leading the way in efforts to tackle the problem, monitoring its supply chains overseas and working with charities to offer work placements to survivors in the UK.
Now it wants people to join the case by writing to their MP and asking them to support Lord McColl’s bill.
This can be done by visiting the #FreeforGood campaign and entering your postcode and email address before signing the letter. Members of a co-operative can add a line stating this fact if they wish.
The Group, which is promoting the #FreeForGood campaign through social media and its membership site, has published a guest blog from Labour MP Frank Field.
Mr Field wrote: “Last week, I chaired a roundtable with the Co-op on their Bright Future programme, which helps victims of modern slavery get back into work, through a paid work placement and a job in their food business. This level of security for victims of modern slavery offers them a chance to rebuild their lives and continue on the path to recovery.
Related: Co-op Group helps build national scheme to help modern slavery victims
“The roundtable invited other businesses to join with the Co-op on their plan of action by offering work placements of their own. Should this programme be scaled up, it may therefore be possible for all victims of modern slavery to go into work, should they choose to do so.”
But Mr Field agreed there was more work to be done, hence the need for Lord McColl’s bill.
“Firstly, victims of modern slavery are often not given leave to remain in the UK,” he wrote. “They therefore do not have a secure immigration status and may be sent back to destitution and danger in their own country.
“Secondly, those lucky enough to be given leave to remain in the UK may not be granted the right to work. This means that even though placements like the Co-op’s Bright Future may be on offer, victims of modern slavery will not be able to participate.
“The meeting showed that UK victims of modern slavery are being let down by an inadequate level of support from the government. That’s why both the Co-op and myself are supporting the #FreeForGood campaign.”
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