Bristol steps up the fight against slavery…
On 21st March 2016 at the Home Office TISC event, Andrew Wallis OBE of award-winning charity Unseen and Jaya Chakrabarti MBE of tech social enterprise Semantrica Ltd announced their online central repository for uploading Modern Slavery Act statements for all companies with turnovers above £36M, https://tiscreport.org. The site will launch on the 1st April 2016, at which point companies may begin the user authentication process in order to upload their statements in compliance with section 54 of the Act.
Says Jaya of the site, “We’re delighted that our civil society effort has received so much encouragement from government and have already had some very high profile companies express their intentions to file with us. With the charitable donations raised by the repository, and the growing support of partners, we will fund the anti-slavery hotline and the battle against slavery using the data provided.”
“It is important to us given the history Bristol had with the Transatlantic slave trade, that we take the battle against modern slavery to the next level starting here in our city. We can’t change our past, we won’t forget our past, but we must also work for a future without slavery. Encouraged by Minister Ed Vaizey (Minister of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) to use my MBE to get even more involved and be more ambitious in doing good on a larger scale, I felt inspired to raise my game on matters of social justice.”
“Shortly after my chat with Minister Vaizey, I met Andrew through James Durie, CEO of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and West of England Initiative, where I am a Vice President. It took all of five minutes listening to Andrew for it all to click into place. I was sold. This was what I was meant to do. Andrew and I made a pact then and there that we would work together to use our combined efforts and the combined power of UK businesses to end slavery. tiscreport.org is the first step of many towards that achieving that vision. It is estimated that over 35 Million people worldwide are held in slavery. 13,000 of those at least are in the UK. As a mother this fills me with a rage and a passion to play my part. It became far more real to me when I talked about my plans with my parents and found out that children had been disappearing from my mother’s village on the border of India and Bangladesh for many years. I had no idea. At least 14 million of the slaves worldwide originate in India. Men, women, children. As an British Indian with little influence in my motherland, this was my way of making up for my ignorance and lack of action in the past.”
Minister Ed Vaizey said of the project: “I’m delighted Jaya is pursuing this incredibly important initiative. She is a fantastic tech leader and this project will do a huge amount to raise awareness of this important issue!”
Andrew says of the pact, “When I met Jaya for the first time I asked the question: “What if Bristol collectively took a stand to be the city where modern slavery was not able to exist? This would impact far wider than we may at first realise. It may affect the goods that we purchase, the services we use and the labour we rely on. Modern slavery is in essence a supply and demand trade.” Together we committed to achieving this aim, and for Bristol to lead globally on the issue of combating and eradicating modern slavery.
“One of the clauses in the Modern Slavery Act – the ‘Transparency in Supply Chains etc.’ Clause requires that large businesses report annually what they are doing to ensure that modern slavery doesn’t exist in its supply chains and business practices. We want to pilot with those businesses and the Universities based here in the West to work out a way to evidence how companies are improving tackling modern slavery year on year. Wouldn’t it be great if one day soon consumers could know that the businesses they are purchasing from are fully committed to ensuring modern slavery can’t exist? By creating the central repository with the charitable aim of also financing the Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre that Unseen have been selected to run, we will also create the means by which the public, investors and businesses can easily access in one place all the reports that companies are producing every year, telling us what they are doing to eradicate modern slavery from their business practices and supply chains.
By focusing on the future Bristol may be able to finally move on from its slave trading past and by leading the way in tackling modern slavery be able to free itself and move forward.”
James Durie, CEO of Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative comments, “Our business community is fully committed to pro-actively working on how we can help raise awareness of the abhorrent slavery which exists Today and we are working with Unseen, many other partners and of course the Modern Slavery Act to do all we can to eradicate it. With over 18,000 members in Bristol and across the South West we are determined that business will help to take the lead.”
Even before launch, tiscreport.org has signed up companies worth over £1.056 Trillion in turnover and growing daily. If you’d like to register your intention to file too, please pre-register at tiscreport.org (or post 1st April – please register for the authentication process).