Friday, 9 February 2018

Now you see me.

I have been wondering who it was that first got me thinking about Modern Slavery.

For me it needs a toss of the coin to decide between US President Obama or The Guardian newspaper. (There we go, turns out it was President Obama).

This terrible activity prompted action here in Cornwall; yesterday.  There was a situation that looked like something had to be done.

It was not only the police who stepped up to do what looked like it needed doing.  The people of Cornwall Council, the Salvation Army and I am sure others that I don't know about faced the early alarm, cold hands, muddy boots and nerves.  It was a busy day for them, and what they did caught the interest of the media.

To those that carried out the operation, thank you.

And today, after seeing another headline I wanted to share some things that have crossed my mind.

The most obvious one is that this was a significant event in Cornwall.  But we are not unique.  The are hundreds if not thousands of migrant workers her in Cornwall.  It's exactly the same in Devon, Dorset and the rest of the UK; town and country.

Another is that there are those who come to the UK looking for better paid jobs.  Some just like the idea of living in the UK, for lots of reasons. There are those looking for an opportunity to help their families. Some have to travel here to be able to support their families, or escape from some really tough situations at home.  I admire those that make a choice and put in the graft to do what they believe is the right thing.

But there are those who do not get to make that choice.  Some are lied to about what it will be like in the UK and what they will be doing.  Some people are bought or taken from their families. Some are smuggled in nasty, harmful conditions.  Some are forced to travel to make money for organized gangs, bullies and thugs.  Far too commonly they travel under the threat that their family will be harmed if they don't.  My heart goes out to those that have dignity and choice taken away from them.

It is also really difficult to know which story lies behind and what future lies ahead of those migrant workers and modern slaves who find themselves in the UK.  It is often not as simple as fitting neatly into a "migrant worker" or "modern slave" box. So it shouldn't be surprising that there is a mixed reaction.

But there are most definitely warning signs and situations that really should get us asking more questions.  This exhibition coming to Plymouth will hopefully help some of us get better at spotting those signs and situations.

And as we continue having our "awareness raised" we will do what communities and the police have always done.  That is, what looks like needs doing.




PS - The roads are more treacherous this time of year, kindness is cheap and other people's stuff often isn't.

PPS - I like the Boss's comment about democracy!

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