Too often those on the frontlines of the campaign against modern slavery are not heard in the policy discussions. Arise was delighted to partner with one of Europe's frontline networks this week in an event designed to raise the profile of their work and bring their voices right to the middle of parliament.
RENATE is a network of religious organisations working against exploitation and trafficking for their first UK event. With 134 members organisations, they are present in 29 European countries including Albania, Romania and Poland - three of the ten top source countries according to the UK's National Referral Mechanism. Their member's work covers prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration.
The event, hosted by Lord Hogan-Howe, an Arise Trustee, was attended by Parliamentarians, members of the policy community and frontline activists from the network. Iain Duncan-Smith MP and Maria Miller MP, both of whom are known for their campaigning against modern slavery, addressed the gathering along with Sr Imelda Poole MBE, RENATE's founder and Dr Carrie Pemberton-Ford.
Lord Hogan-Howe, opening the event, said: "I am delighted to play a part in bringing the voice of frontline anti-slavery activists to parliament. Westminster can be a bubble, and this often brings about a disconnect between what is happening on the ground and what policy-makers are discussing. Modern slave-traders are organised criminals. They quickly and cleverly adapt their methods. We need frontline intelligence on the true picture of what slavery looks like, not just for our benefit, but to raise awareness among the general public who often feel far removed from the world of slavery, but in reality, are not. I commend the superb work of RENATE in bringing this invaluable knowledge to the fore."
Iain Duncan-Smith praised the work of RENATE, highlighting how any change in the law must be accompanied by a robust and vibrant civil society that can support these changes. This was echoed by Maria Miller, who also highlighted the need for more international cooperation, exemplified by the RENATE members.
The event also launched RENATE's new research into child-trafficking across Europe. Collecting data from Albania, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Slovakia, The Netherlands and Ukraine the document analysed the problem of child trafficking in their national contexts. It concluded that none of the countries have comprehensive measures of protection to support child migrants from trafficking.
Arise hopes that this event will serve as a starting point for many future collaborations between policymakers and those on the frontlines across Europe.