A CAMPAIGN to help prevent modern slavery is set to be launched with dozens of call-to-action banners being installed across the North-East.

Starting on Tuesday, churches across the Church of England’s Diocese of Durham will place 30 large banners in prominent parts of Stockton, before moving onto towns and cities across the region later in the year.

Specially-printed banners, which publicise the Modern Slavery Helpline’s phone number, will act as an aid to people who are suffering modern slavery and to those who are concerned that somebody could be at risk.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Modern slavery victims often work for a little or no money, forced into roles they do not want to do, or can be sexually exploited.

The government has claimed the most common industries that victims tend to be “trafficked” into fall under agriculture, construction, hospitality, manufacturing and hand-car washes.

Reverend Canon David Tomlinson, who fought to stop a modern day slavery victim being deported from the UK, said: “Even though most people think that slavery only exists overseas, modern slavery in the UK is thriving.

“The British Government estimates that tens of thousands of people are in modern slavery in the UK today.

“Most people are trafficked into the UK from overseas, but there is also a significant number of British nationals in slavery.”

Reverend Tomlinson said victims from abroad came from countries such as Albania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Romania and Poland, while he said women and girls were continuing to face trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation.

He said: “Many people, again mostly women and girls, also end up in domestic slavery.

“Others, particularly children, are forced into crime such as cannabis production, petty theft or begging.”

Reverend Tomlinson said victims facing poverty and a “lack of opportunity” were susceptible to become slavery victims.

He said: “Typically, a person coming from a situation of poverty and lack of opportunity gets an offer of an apparently good job in the UK.

“Often the victim has to take a loan from an agent to pay for the recruitment fees and for the journey – when the person arrives in Britain, the job and the conditions they were promised are completely different.

“Their passport is taken away, and they’re told they need to pay off the debt before they can leave – violence or threats are common practice, both against the victim as well as their family back home.”

Reverend Gemma Sampson, champion of the Diocesan response to modern-day slavery, said: “ We believe that the tools to end modern slavery already exist within the local community and that the Church, which is present in all communities and at the heart of many, has a primary responsibility in leading these efforts.

“The Diocese of Durham supported by The Clewer Initiative is working to enable churches to develop strategies to detect modern slavery in their communities and help provide victim support and care.

"It involves working with the Church locally, identifying resources that can be utilised, developing partnerships with others, and creating a wider network of advocates seeking to end modern slavery together.”

Last year, The Salvation Army said 193 modern slavery victims from the North-East were supported by the charity in 2017.

It said the number of those coming from a role classed as a form of exploitation had risen almost nine percent from the previous year, while it said a number of victims were British nationals.