William Eichler 03 June 2021

New framework for public health approach to modern slavery launched

New framework for public health approach to modern slavery launched image

A new framework for a public health approach to tackling modern slavery has been made available for local authorities to access.

A public health approach is a way of thinking and acting collectively to address a problem that can damage health and wellbeing.

The research, which includes a report, an interactive framework and a guide for anti-slavery partnerships, has been developed by the University of Sheffield, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and Public Health England.

It seeks to show that a public health approach is a promising framework for prevention, for planning at a national and local level and as a means of bringing together existing frameworks with a humane focus.

To inform the research, a series of online workshops were held with stakeholders from across the anti-slavery sector and beyond. Learning from these workshops helped to devise and design a refined public health framework to address modern slavery with multiple components including national factors, regional and local factors, service design factors and service delivery factors.

‘With its focus on prevention, multi-agency working and evidence of what works, a public health approach has considerable value to add to anti-slavery efforts,’ said Dame Sara Thornton, UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

‘I am delighted that my office has been able to work collaboratively with the University of Sheffield and Public Health England to build on the emergent research and produce this refined framework for a public health approach to modern slavery.

‘Anti-slavery partnerships have an important role in driving anti-slavery activity at a local and regional level. I am aware that some partnerships have already undertaken efforts to adopt a public health approach, however this is not yet embedded within partnerships across the UK.

‘From an early stage, all partners involved in the research therefore agreed it was essential to develop a tool to support anti-slavery partnerships in delivering a public health approach in practice.

‘I hope that the Guide for policy, strategy and local partnerships is a helpful resource which enables partnerships to reflect on their current work and challenge themselves to think about where they can carry out activity to prevent modern slavery.’

Rosanna O’Connor, interim director for health improvement at Public Health England, said: ‘Public health professionals have for a long time recognised how taking a public health approach can help tackle complex problems.

‘This ground-breaking work is a unique opportunity to share experience and knowledge with other partners to help prevent exploitation and slavery and the devastating harm it causes.

‘One of Public Health England’s key missions is to reduce health inequalities and this requires a specific focus on those groups who are most vulnerable. Preventing modern slavery from occurring and supporting people out of exploitative situations will greatly contribute to this mission.’

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