Belfast Telegraph

Co-op to offer jobs to survivors of modern slavery

The Co-op is to offer jobs to victims of the modern slave trade as part of a new scheme, it has announced.

The group has teamed up with charity City Hearts, which offers support and accommodation to vulnerable people, to provide 30 survivors of modern slavery with paid work experience in its food business.

Following the placement, the survivors will be given a non-competitive interview and, if it is successful and a position is vacant, be offered a job.

The first beneficiary of the scheme, known as the Bright Future programme, is already working in a Co-op store in the North West.

Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells said: "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.

"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."

Sarah Newton MP, Minister for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism, said: "I am pleased that Co-op is launching this initiative today.

"The Government included a transparency in supply chains provision in the world-leading Modern Slavery Act 2015 to encourage businesses to do more to tackle modern slavery.

"The private sector has a vital role to play in eradicating this barbaric crime and I hope that this positive project will inspire other businesses to take action in the future."

Kevin Hyland, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said: " This unique initiative marks the first time 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."