The Co-op Group has called on firms in hospitality, hairdressing and social care to join the Bright Future programme, which provides jobs for survivors of modern slavery.
Developed in 2017 by the Group in conjunction with charity City Hearts, the programme offers victims a four-week paid work placement leading to a non-competitive interview. If they pass, candidates are offered a permanent job within the host business.
The campaign has already attracted a number of businesses, including Dixons Carphone and the Body Shop, in partnership with Single Resource, John Lewis, East of England Co-op, Midcounties Co-op and Marshalls plc. Typhoo and safety specialists Arco have also recently joined.
But recent research by City Hearts among potential Bright Future candidates found that almost a third (31%) would prefer a job in a hotel or restaurant, social and childcare or hairdressing and beauty.
Paul Gerrard, director of campaigns at the Group, said: “Victims of this wicked crime come from a wide range of backgrounds and offer a vast variety of skills and experiences.
“Therefore, it is essential that the Bright Future programme offers jobs across the complete spectrum so the maximum number of victims can be supported with the dignity of paid, freely chosen employment.
“Without this, there is a real chance that they could fall back into the hands of those who have exploited them and for the terrible, unspeakable cycle of enslavement to begin again.”
Related: Co-op Group releases report on its ethical and sustainability policies
Typhoo’s CEO Somnath Saha said: “At Typhoo, we are committed to acting ethically and with integrity and supporting our local communities.
“We are proud to be a Bright Future Business Partner; empowering victims of modern slavery to rebuild their lives and helping them achieve a better quality of life.”
As part of the programme, the Co-op Group and City Hearts have developed a nationwide network of local victim support charities working to identify suitable applicants. So far, 50 vulnerable survivors have received a chance to rebuild their lives, with the number expected to reach 300 by 2020.
Join the Conversation