Firms in hospitality, hairdressing and social care have been urged to offer jobs to the victims of modern slavery.
Businesses across various sectors of the economy have followed the lead set by the Co-op and signed up to the innovative Bright Future programme that provides employment for those rescued from slavery.
Research by the charity City Hearts amongst potential Bright Future candidates found that almost a third (31 per cent) said they would prefer a job in a hotel or restaurant, social and child care or hairdressing and beauty. That is why companies in these sectors are being encouraged to join Bright Future and meet this need.
Bright Future, which was devised by the Co-op in conjunction with City Hearts, offers victims a four-week paid work placement leading to a non-competitive interview. If both elements are successful, the candidate will be offered a permanent job within the host business.
The latest companies to join Bright Future are Typhoo and safety specialists Arco who join the John Lewis Partnership, Dixons Carphone and The Body Shop, in partnership with Single Resource, along with eight others, including independent Co-op societies, food suppliers and construction company Marshalls Plc.
Paul Gerrard, Director of Campaigns at the Co-op, said: “Victims of this wicked crime come from a wide range of backgrounds and offer a vast variety of skills and experiences.
“Therefore, it is essential that the Bright Future programme offers jobs across the complete spectrum so the maximum number of victims can be supported with the dignity of paid, freely chosen employment.
“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.”
Typhoo’s CEO Somnath Saha said: “At Typhoo, we are committed to acting ethically and with integrity and supporting our local communities.
“We are proud to be a Bright Future Business Partner; empowering victims of modern slavery to rebuild their lives and helping them achieve a better quality of life.”
City Hearts and the Co-op have established a nationwide network of local victim support charities that all the businesses that have joined the scheme work hand in hand with, to identify suitable applicants.
Already more than 50 vulnerable survivors are being given a chance to rebuild their lives and it is envisaged that up to 300 will secure placements through the Bright Future programme by 2020.