The Co-op has just announced plans to offer jobs to modern slave trade victims as part of a new scheme known as the Bright Future programme.
The company behind the grocery chain is collaborating with City Hearts, a charity that offers support and accommodation to vulnerable people, to provide 30 modern slavery survivors with paid work placement in its food business.
Afterwards, the survivors will have the opportunity to undergo a non-competitive job interview and if successful and a position is vacant, they would be offered a job.
The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner said this was the first time modern slavery victims have been directly offered work placements and employment opportunities.
“In doing so, the Co-op has empowered victims of modern slavery and human trafficking to live a bright future and I am pleased to see that this initiative opens the door for that to become a reality,” commissioner Kevin Hyland said.
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The first beneficiary of Bright Future scheme is already working in a Co-op store in north west England.
“Having heard our new colleague’s harrowing story, I am proud that our Co-op has teamed up with City Hearts to offer real practical help to survivors of this evil crime,” Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells said.
“It is clear to me that victims need to be supported while they rebuild their lives and central to that is the dignity that paid, freely chosen employment provides.
“Without this, there is a real chance that they could fall back into the hands of those who have exploited them and for the terrible, unspeakable cycle of enslavement to begin again.”
The government has as amended the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to include transparency in supply chains provision in order to encourage retailers and other businesses to do more to tackle modern slavery.