Modern-day trafficking and slavery are prevalent in all communities but easily go unnoticed. The Clewer Initiative reported that last year, over 100,000 men, women, and children were trapped in modern slavery.
ASIOX, Anti Slavery Initiative Oxford, is an organisation that collaborates with other organisations in Oxford working together against modern slavery and trafficking. It also provides opportunities for individuals to directly support people who have experienced modern slavery and exploitation. The organisation began five years ago as a small prayer group, formed of local people who shared the same passion for justice and wanted to play an active part in supporting survivors of trafficking and their children.
In 2022, ASIOX gained charitable status and completed a pilot of their newly created befriender programme. Working with specialist support services in the Thames Valley, volunteers were matched with survivors of trafficking to practically care for survivors, build trust, and improve the confidence to help them to get their lives back. ASIOX is building relationships with other agencies in Oxfordshire and plans to launch an official befriending programme in the spring of this year.
Sue Brockes-Smith, Co-Founder of ASIOX, shares her passion for helping to tackle modern slavery and why she is involved with supporting survivors:
“The gospel speaks so clearly about Jesus setting the oppressed free and I feel that God has called me to be part of this fight for justice. It’s important to align ourselves with God’s heart, we have a responsibility to be aware of what is happening in the world around us and to respond with love and care for all God’s children.”
“I am always amazed at the power of telling a story and the impact it has on other people and their desire to create change, so I hope that through ASIOX we can inspire others to make changes in their lives that help the lives of those who have been exploited .”
Consumers can have a large impact on the exploitation of people through the choices that are made when purchasing food, clothing, electronics, services, furniture and more. What’s your slavery footprint?
Spotting the signs of child exploitation
Across the country, young people are being manipulated, sexually abused, and forced to launder money, and deal drugs. Exploitation isn't obvious. But it happens everywhere.
The Children’s Society helps you to get to know the signs of child exploitation and how to report with the #LookCloser resources, created with the British Transport Police and National County Lines Coordination Centre.
Food Banks and Warm Spaces
Many food bank users are at risk of exploitation. Increasingly, traffickers are using food banks as a way to feed their workers at no cost to themselves. Display these posters, from the Clewer Initiative, around your food bank to educate staff and volunteers on how to spot the signs of modern slavery.
There are also posters to help individuals identify whether they are a victim of modern slavery or at risk of exploitation. You may want to display these at your food bank, warm space, or other community events.
If you suspect or witness something that may indicate they are a victim of modern slavery or exploitation, or someone discloses information to suggest this may be the case, this flowchart from the Clewer Initiative can help to work out what to do.
The Diocese of Oxford is part of the Oxfordshire Anti-Slavery Network, a multi-agency partnership with Thames Valley Police and local authorities working to end modern slavery in the county. Find more information and help.