Addressing modern slavery
01 August 2017 IN: Parish News
It started with a simple invitation. The Justice and Peace group from St Chrysostom's church invited the manager of a local safe house for victims of modern slavery to talk to them about the work they were doing. She described the exploitation that many of the men had gone through, and how little they were left with when they escaped. Often with no identity documents and just the clothes they stood up in, these men also struggled with English.
The team at St Chrysostoms were sure that they wanted to act. They began by providing winter clothes for the men, making sure they were protected from the chill of winter. They also started providing English classes at the church for the men.
Some of those attending the classes have become more embedded in the life of the church. A couple have spread the word about modern slavery in the community. One revealed he could play the piano, and he now comes to play regularly before weekday worship.
Most of those who attend the class are still living in the safe house but when they move on, they are often looking for a job. The church helps by going through their cv, and role playing the interview with them.
St Chrysostom's would love to see more churches taking up the idea, Father Ian Gomersall sees the classes as a great example of the unique value churches can bring to work with survivors. Not only providing the skills they need, but also giving them the space to reflect, heal, and flourish.