UK co-op retailer launches scheme to help victims of modern slavery

17 Jun 2024

The UK’s Co-operative Group has joined a campaign to tackle modern slave trade by supporting victims and help them integrate into communities.

The Co-op pledged to provide jobs for known victims and raise awareness of modern slavery among its four million members. The scheme, named the Bright Future Programme, is the result of the mutual’s collaboration with charity City Hearts, which offers support and accommodation to vulnerable people. As part of the project, the Co-op will provide 30 survivors of modern slavery paid work experience across its food business and, if suitable, a guaranteed job.

The Group’s 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.”

Kevin Hyland, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, also said: “We need more companies to respond to modern slavery like the Co-op. This pioneering approach to victim support will provide long-term care, boost opportunities for the future and, most importantly of all, prevent the risk of re-trafficking.”

Photo: Group policy and campaigns director, Paul Gerrard, announcing the launch of the Bright Future Programme