Southend community art project shows joint stance on modern slavery

A Southend community project to transform hoardings into artistic messages about exploitation has reached fruition.

SAMS (Southend Against Modern Slavery) partnership, Project 49 and artist Nik Vaughn have worked together on the piece, which promotes the town’s zero tolerance approach to modern slavery.

The hoardings opposite Project 49 in Alexandra Street display paintings highlighting how exploitation can occur in relation to cannabis farming, shellfish harvesting, pop-up brothels and domestic service. Project 49 is a day service for adults with learning disabilities run by Southend Care.

Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer contact, said: “It is great that different community sectors have come together to produce this fantastic artwork and there is an incredibly serious message and call to action behind it.

“Modern-day slavery is a national problem but we want to do all we can within Southend to highlight the issue and stop it happening in our town. If people know what modern-day slavery is and what exploitation looks like, what the signs are, then it is easier for people to report it.

“Often those in the situation are the least able to raise the alarm, so we need our community to be vigilant and report any concerns they may have.”

Signs of exploitation include those who are forced, controlled, abused, isolated, in debt, malnourished, dehumanised, restricted, anxious or dependent.

Southend Council works in collaboration with organisations, such as SAMS and Essex Police to raise awareness and work towards a slavery-free Southend. The council has also signed up to a zero-tolerance approach to modern-day slavery, as outlined in our modern slavery statement 2019-20 online.

To find out more about the subject and what you can do to help, visit www.samspartnership.org.uk. If you think someone is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

To anonymously report something suspicious, call the modern slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700.

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Mick Ferris

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