Local MP hears about UK's hidden slaves

Mike Thornton MP is backing the campaign to raise awareness of Modern Day Slavery, and is asking local people to be alert for any signs of this in Hampshire.

IMG_1835.jpgMike attended one of the most dramatic and distressing exhibitions ever promoted, highlighting the hidden nature of Modern Day Slavery.

The exhibition built by students from the Central St Martins College of Art depicts the four different kinds of slavery hidden away in our society. Curtains, doors, drawers and tea chests concealed the stories and photographs of survivors.

The survivors who shared their stories with the Human Trafficking Foundation to create the exhibition attended the opening. Among them was Cristina, a Romanian girl sold by her mother into prostitution in Birmingham when she was 16 and who narrowly escaped being snatched from her local authority care home by her traffickers. There was also a man, duped by a job advertised in Hungary, and on arrival here forced to work without pay, compelled to open a credit card account operated by his slave master, forced to claim benefits for non-existent children.

No one knows the real numbers involved. Yet, the Serious Organized Crime Agency knows that at least 2,000 victims are found each year. However, they believe that is the tip of the iceberg and that for every victim found, another ten remain hidden. The Human Trafficking Foundation concludes there must be up to 20,000 slaves in the cities, towns and villages of the UK.

Of these victims that have come to light, 49.5% (the majority) are known to have come from the South East.

Eastleigh’s MP Mike Thornton said, "I was appalled to learn that even my constituency could be affected by modern day slavery and that there could be deeply traumatised people who have been trafficked to the UK and abused living across Hampshire."

"As a result of what I’ve seen today, I want to ensure that everyone in Eastleigh is more alert to the signs of modern day slavery. I hope students in schools, public service workers, the police, as well as those in private business will join me in this task. In Parliament, I want to see the government put modern day slavery at the top of the political agenda."

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