From the 3rd to the 7th of September, twenty-five engaged and inspired young people came together for the How to Create Change: Skills and Knowledge for Dialogue and Influencing conference to learn, share ideas and create campaigns to help tackle the devastating issue of modern slavery in Europe.
The week-long series of workshops was part of Wonder Foundation’s SEE-ME (Solidarity, Education, Engagement – Modern Day Slavery in Europe) series. The project is designed to engage, inform and inspire young people from the UK, Slovenia and Sweden to take action in their own communities and to influence wider modern slavery policy. The five days of activities included listening and interacting with experts in modern slavery and partaking in workshops, with participants developing their own campaign strategy that could be used to tackle modern slavery.
Our very own Olivia Darby, Campaigns and Policy Director, kicked off the first day of the conference by presenting the idea of solidarity and what that looked like in reality. Participants were encouraged to discuss campaigns that created transformational solidarity and, therefore, had a transforming effect on those they aimed to support.
Following this, Emma Crates, a freelance journalist with expertise on modern slavery in the construction industry, introduced the definition and scale of modern slavery across the globe. Notably, Emma demonstrated the complexity in identifying victims of human trafficking in complex supply chains, where key players are incentivised to pass responsibility to recognise victims and protect workers on to sub-contractors or suppliers.
On Tuesday, Kate Roberts from the Human Trafficking Foundation spoke about the UK’s 2015 Modern Slavery Act and the implications for businesses and individuals in practice. She discussed with participants the breakthroughs and shortcomings of the Act and subsequent revisions of it. Furthermore, she highlighted the Freedom Campaign and APPG on human trafficking and modern slavery.
By the middle of the week, participants had begun to grapple with the endemic and complex nature of modern slavery. Ceri Gautama and Morwenna Darby, media managers at the Alzheimer’s Society and UNICEF UK respectively, introduced how effective media campaigns are created by giving participants the opportunity to develop their own hypothetical campaigns.
Following this, Phoebe McClements and Lara Seemungal, two of Wonder’s interns, ran a workshop titled, Making Work Ethical. During this workshop, participants delved into different government and private sector programmes, such as the GLAA and Fair Trade, to understand if they are effective in reducing the incidence of modern slavery. Participants then discussed whether branding schemes such as Fair Trade are reliable and effective solutions in making products ethical.
Simon O’Toole, a barrister with a specialisation in human rights, spoke on Thursday about the realities of exploitation of seafarers. He explained the complexities of enforcing laws at sea aboard ships who fly specific flags out of convenience to evade laws. Simon also described to participants how supply chains, even of ethical products, are incredibly hidden, especially if the products are transported overseas.
On Thursday afternoon, Philippa Southwell spoke to participants about her experiences in supporting survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery through their rehabilitation and re-integration into society. She depicted a complex issue of how the survivors are exploited, describing how the exploitation went far beyond the most well-known forms of labour and sexual exploitation, to include using the person’s identity to claim public services, open bank accounts, take loans and commit crimes.
On Friday morning, Dave Coles from the LSE Volunteer Centre engaged with participants about how to attract and encourage volunteers to become involved in campaigns. Following this, the participating young people presented their personal projects they had spent time developing over the course of the week.
Overall, the whole week was a huge success in encouraging young people to engage with the endemic issue of modern slavery. The young people, who were already motivated and inspired to create change, completed the workshop having developed new skills to create effective and transformational campaigns. Over the upcoming months, several further events will be held to help develop these campaigns so that in the beginning of 2019, a few will be ready to be implemented in local communities or proposed to parliament.