Stella Maris, a leading maritime charity, is taking proactive measures in the fight against modern slavery with the establishment of a dedicated Steering Group.
The group comprises 23 individuals representing a spectrum of stakeholders, including ferry operators, port businesses, recruitment agencies, port owners, port authorities, charities, Border Force, and the police. It aims to build on the success of Stella Maris’ recent Modern Slavery Identification and Awareness workshops and create a comprehensive action plan to help address modern slavery UK ports.
Stella Maris partnered with Align Ltd in 2023 to hold six Modern Slavery Identification and Awareness workshops led by an expert panel and those with Lived Experience of the issue. The workshops, funded by the Department for Transport through the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, explored critical aspects of modern slavery prevention, indicators of exploitation, risk reduction strategies, emerging threats, and access to support networks for survivors.
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Pre- and post-workshop surveys provided valuable insights. Highlighting the scale of the issue, 52% of participants revealed that they were aware of modern slavery victims being identified within or by their organisation, and 60% expressed concerns about potential exploitation in their supply chains.
The workshops identified five key challenges faced by the maritime sector in combating modern slavery and human trafficking:
1. Lack of Awareness and Knowledge
2. Difficulty in Identifying Victims
3. Challenges in Reporting and Sharing Information
4. Trust and Communication Issues
5. Organisational and Leadership Challenges.
Responding to these challenges, Stella Maris and Align Ltd have formed the Steering Group to catalyse positive change within the sector.
Mark Gibbens, Head of Logistics at Drax Power Limited, expressed his commitment to the issue, stating, “My company operates a global supply chain, and the workshop has inspired me to join the Stella Maris Steering Group in 2024 to use our position of privilege to promote greater awareness of modern slavery, and to be proactive in improving our industry.”
Tim Hill MBE, Stella Maris CEO and National Director, emphasised the significance of the initiative, saying, “With over half of the workshop participants being aware of modern slavery victims being identified within or by their organisation, it’s clear this is a big issue for the maritime sector. The steering group, bringing together diverse perspectives from across the port infrastructure, provides a great opportunity to create a comprehensive and effective action plan for lasting change.”
The first Steering Group meeting was held on January 24th and marked a significant milestone in the collaborative effort to help combat modern slavery in UK ports.
Source: Stella Maris