Ten UK businesses today (7 July) signed up to Bright Future, an innovative scheme devised by the Co-op, in conjunction with charity City Hearts, to create jobs for victims of modern slavery.
Food groups including Mid Counties Co-op, East of England Co-op, ABP, Tulip, 2 Sisters Food Group, and Greencore have all signed up, as well as Dixons Carphone and The Body Shop, in partnership with Single Resource, along with Flamingo Flowers, and Marshalls Plc. These firm have become Bright Future Business Partners and have pledged to provide employment for people rescued from enslavement.
Under the Bright Future scheme victims are offered a four-week paid work placement leading to a non-competitive interview. If both elements are successful the candidate will be offered a permanent job within the host business.
The businesses that have joined the scheme will now work hand in hand with a nationwide network of local victim support charities, established by City Hearts and the Co-op, to identify suitable applicants.
Already more than 30 vulnerable survivors are being given a chance to rebuild their lives by the Co-op and it is envisaged that up to 300 will secure placements through the Bright Future programme by 2020.
Pippa Wicks, Deputy CEO of the Co-op, (pictured) said, “We think of slavery as something from the history books but it is happening in the UK at this very moment.
“Having heard at first hand the harrowing stories of people who have been caught up in this heinous crime, I am proud that we are working to help eliminate it and that others are now joining us in providing job opportunities.
“It is clear 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.”
Phillip Clayton, Head of Development, said, “City Hearts believes in the restoration and freedom of every life. We are honoured to work alongside so many businesses in Bright Future, providing hope where many had none.
“In over a decade of working with survivors of slavery, many are victims of horrendous and unspeakable crimes against their most basic human rights.
'However, we have witnessed the profound impact that Bright Future can have on a life. “We are delighted with the variety and number of opportunities provided by these new business partners that will strengthen what we can offer through the National Matching System.
“Knowing that businesses are rising up to make a difference, many more survivors will experience dignity, hope and real transformation.”