Around 100 people gathered in Lincoln Cathedral on Saturday, 17 February 2018 to hear passionate talks on the topic of modern slavery – the exploitation of people trafficked or otherwise caught up in work with no rights, little or no pay and often appalling and dangerous conditions. And it wasn’t just theory, there were heart-rending stories told that took us to the people behind the headlines.

The morning began with the viewing of a powerful display of photographs in the centre of Lincoln, followed by a prayer walk, led by the new Chancellor of Lincoln, to the Cathedral, where we were greeted by the Dean, for whom this subject is of great concern.

Each of the speakers – the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern (Bishop of Derby), Shayne Tyler (Operations Executive at Manor Fresh Ltd, a UK-based fruit and vegetables supplier) and DCI Harry Dick (Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Coordinator for East Midlands Police Region) – gave eye-opening and moving stories of exploitation, and spoke of ways in which we could all become more aware.

The overall theme was ‘We see you’ – that is, the importance of really seeing the people around us. Do these people seem comfortable in their roles? If not, perhaps we need to say something – because if we don’t the exploitation might continue. We were told not to challenge people ourselves, but that we should ring 111 – our job is to be the eyes and ears of society to help root out the horror of modern slavery.

The Conference was supported by The Clewer Initiative, which enables Church of England dioceses and wider church networks to develop strategies for detecting modern slavery in their communities and to help provide victim support and care.