As we draw to a close on our extensive field work of the past two and a half years, we are taking stock of our progress in our quest to understand and explore the role of faith in shaping responses to anti-trafficking. Our focus has been on collecting data across three terrains of anti-trafficking practice: service provision, representations and policy. We have developed six case studies of organisations involved in providing support services to people exiting coercive and exploitative situations. To do this we have produced written case studies from organisations’ materials, and interviewed managers, staff and volunteers. We have also interviewed 18 key statutory, government and civil society representatives. In order to understand how the UK compares with our European neighbours, we have interviewed representatives of key secular and faith-based anti-trafficking organisations in Spain and the Netherlands – affording the research team alternative perspectives. To date we have completed 65 in-depth qualitative interviews in this part of the study.
This project is centred on the needs of people who have experience of trafficking, so it was imperative that they were included in the cohort of research participants. A group of individuals living across the UK, who come from all over the world and who have lived through a variety of different (sometimes multiple) types of exploitation, spoke to us about their relationships with support services and their journey following leaving an exploitative situation. The interview data collected has been enhanced by an analysis of Hansard transcripts to assess the prevalence and content of parliamentary discussions on the topics of ‘human trafficking’ and ‘modern slavery’ linked to faith, faith-based organisations and religion.
This volume of data requires a lot of analysis, which we are in the process of undertaking. Key themes to emerge so far have informed the first academic article (currently under review), which explores how faith shapes responses to trafficking and how faith actors (individuals and faith based organisations) adapt their identity in order to operate in a secular society. Further plans for the research findings include a book, research report and accompanying briefings, as well as resources to inform practice regarding the ethical use of images and the role of faith in supporting survivors of modern slavery. The good news is we have an extension and the research project will now continue until the end of March 2020.
A few dates for your diary . . .
- Our International Symposium ‘Rights, dignity and religion: responding to ‘modern slavery’‘ Friday 24th January 2020 in Sheffield.
- A joint APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) will bring together the Faith & Society APPG and the Modern Slavery APPG for an event in March 2020, which will take place in London.