Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, welcomed survivors of modern slavery to Parliament this week.
As part of a round-table event addressing how to support survivors of modern slavery, the local MP hosted staff of Northern College and survivors from their ‘Free Thinking’ programme.
Across the globe, around 40 million people are trapped in modern slavery, and it’s estimated there are tens of thousands of people afflicted by the practice, including 5,000 cases in 2017 alone.
Modern slavery in the UK takes a number of forms, from forced and bonded labour, human trafficking, forced and child marriages, sexual exploitation, and forced criminal activity.
In response, Barnsley’s Northern College have established a ‘Free Thinking’ programme, which offers those who have been freed from modern slavery a chance to reintegrate back into normal life.
Following their first 14-week programme, the College have helped 14 survivors with lessons in English, Maths, IT and languages, a hand in developing functional skills that have prepared them for living and working, and rebuilding confidence after time in slavery.
Barnsley East’s MP hosted local staff from the course and survivors of modern slavery who have benefited from it, as part of her parliamentary event on how to support those who have been affected by the practice.
Attended by MPs from parties across the House of Commons, Ms Peacock’s meeting discussed how parliamentarians can work to support the work of initiatives like Northern College’s ‘Free Thinking’ course, and gave those affected a voice in the heart of Government.
She said: “Modern slavery is an appalling practice in which people here in the UK and Barnsley are forced into a life not just without pay, but without freedom.
“I’m proud of the efforts of Barnsley’s Northern College in addressing this issue, and providing an innovative blueprint for how to fully support survivors of modern slavery right across the country.
“Welcoming members of staff of this local institution and survivors themselves to Parliament was a vital way of giving them a chance to discuss their experiences with parliamentarians of all parties, and have their voices heard here in Westminster.”