Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement
In 2016, there was still an estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery around the world, despite it being abolished in the 19th century. Modern slavery is a global problem transcending age, gender, and ethnicity; it includes slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. Traffickers and those responsibility for slavery use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive, and force individuals into a life of abuse.
The Bridge (East Midlands) is passionate about being a responsible and ethical organisation which treats everyone with dignity and respect. People have made The Bridge (East Midlands) the successful charity it is today. The organisation does not tolerate slavery and human trafficking and outlined below is its commitment to ensuring they have no place in its business. The Bridge (East Midlands) directly employs circa. 50 people, undertaking charitable work across the sub-region of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, and the wider East Midlands.
The Modern Slavery Act (2015) requires large businesses, with sales of over a specified amount (currently £36m) to be transparent about their efforts to eradicate Slavery and Human Trafficking. Although The Bridge (East Midlands) falls under this turnover threshold, as an ethical charity it complies, in so far as it can, with all the legislation. This statement explains the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of its supply chains or any part of the charity.
The Bridge (East Midlands) welcomes the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act and is committed to ensuring that modern slavery does not occur in any area of the charity. As a charity with an inclusive mission, it takes seriously the call to work for a just and equal society, upholding the human rights and values of freedom, respect, fairness, and independence for all. The organisation is committed to ensuring the utmost protection and safety of all people in its services and staff team.
The Organisation and its Values
The Bridge (East Midlands) has been working for the community since 1993, delivering a range of specialist housing related advice, support, and assistance interventions, designed to assist homeless and vulnerably housed people across Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland. The organisation’s vital, and in some cases lifesaving, homeless prevention, and relief services, are underpinned by its vision of seeing resilient, compassionate communities where individuals thrive in safe and secure homes. The organisation’s mission is to develop sustainable housing solutions for individuals and communities through partnership, empowerment, and good practice.
The Bridge (East Midlands) Core Values
- Respect - we have a commitment to fairness and equality. We acknowledge each individual’s worth, needs, views, beliefs and their right to make their own choices.
- Quality - we have a commitment to delivering excellence through promoting a culture of learning and continual improvement.
- Partnership - we recognise the strengths of working together, with others, to develop trusting and positive relationships for the benefit of all, through open and honest communication.
- Empowerment - we encourage the development of individuals’ skills and knowledge. We help to build self-confidence and increase opportunities to make positive contributions.
- Positivity - we take an optimistic and proactive approach to identifying, and exploring, the most beneficial options and solutions for all.
The Organisation, Employees and Staff Team
The Bridge (East Midlands) has contracts of employment in place for all of its employees. Additionally, its contracts are supported by our human resources policies and procedures, which are provided individually to all staff and copies are available within the workplace. Based on our risk assessments, we deem the risk of slavery or human trafficking occurring within The Bridge (East Midlands) direct employee population or contract staff population under our direct supervision, to be low.
Our HR policies and procedures are reviewed regularly by the organisation’s Quality & Business Manager and the Board of Trustees, together with our HR Consultants, The INK Group, (14 Kings Head Place, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 7JT), and our Employment Lawyers, Shakespeare Martineau (2 Colton Square, Leicester, LE1 1QH) to ensure we remain compliant and amend as necessary.
The Bridge (East Midlands) conduct “right to work” checks on all direct employees prior to them commencing their roles with the Charity. This includes checking, where applicable, that the employee has a valid work visa and is of an appropriate age to work. We allow all individuals who work or provide services to us the right to freely choose employment and, the right to associate freely with other individuals.
Workers are free to choose whether to join a trade union or not and, as a result of our training, we offer an environment which is free from harassment and unlawful discrimination. We ensure our working practices are in accordance with the Equality Act (2010) and all employment legislation. We do not engage in forced or involuntary labour and have a zero-tolerance approach to the same, meaning we do not tolerate any of our suppliers engaging in such conduct.
The Organisation, Subsidiaries and Supply Chains
The Board of Trustees is responsible for the governance of The Bridge (East Midlands) and ensuring that its activities are within its charitable objectives. The Bridge (East Midlands) is a charity registered in England (1050596), and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (03114996). It is governed by its Articles of Association dated 29 February 2012. It also has a subsidiary company called The Bridge (Trading) East Midlands Ltd.; a company limited by guarantee registered in England Wales (10922464).
The Bridge (East Midlands) does not engage with suppliers in high-risk areas. The organisation is currently undertaking an extensive supply chain mapping and ethical risk assessment process which will be ongoing and will inform future Procurement Policy. The Bridge (East Midlands) does currently procure a wide range of goods and services via a diverse and varied supply chain, including:
- Property related services (repairs & maintenance)
- Facilities management services
- Communications and IT equipment services
- Temporary/Agency staff
- Various professional services
- Office equipment and supplies
Risks and Due Diligence
The Bridge (East Midlands) has a robust Quality Management System, and operates a number of internal policies to ensure that our activities are transparent and that we are actively reducing the risk of modern slavery:
- Recruitment Policy and Procedure - The Bridge (East Midlands) undertakes right to work checks on all employees. Additionally, the majority of roles require an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check.
- Central Payroll - all new starter paperwork and any subsequent pay changes go through the Administration and Finance Team at Head Office, and then passed to the organisation external HR and Payroll Team. This ensures that all employees are paid correctly, receive at least the National Living Wage and have the relevant permissions to work.
- Agency Workers - it is not often The Bridge (East Midlands) uses agency workers, however, any recruitment agencies used are checked for their commitment to driving high standards, irrespective of sector and have rigorous policies in place that help drive out any aspects of human trafficking and slavery from their and their clients’ supply chains.
- Whistleblowing Procedure - The Bridge (East Midlands) operates a Professional Standards and Conduct Policy and contained within that is the Whistleblowing Procedure which ensures that concerns can be raised, without fear of reprisals.
- Risk Assessment and Risk Management Policy - promotes a robust escalation and incident management process. The organisation’s Risk Register also contains relevant information relating to Safeguarding and Personnel.
- Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Policy and Procedure - describes the warning signs and indicators of victims of abuse and modern slavery and outlines the procedure which must be followed should concerns be raised. Furthermore, safeguarding training and a modern slavery online course are available for staff and volunteers working at The Bridge (East Midlands).
Further Steps to Prevent Modern Slavery
The Bridge (East Midlands) continues to take the issues of modern slavery seriously and will develop its approach, reviewing and revising policies and training where necessary in order to ensure that it raises awareness of modern slavery throughout the organisation. The Bridge (East Midlands) has robust Safeguarding Policies which set out the organisation’s detailed stance and procedures in relation to Modern Slavery, including Child Criminal and Sexual Exploitation.
The Bridge (East Midlands) has zero tolerance to slavery and human trafficking and expects all of its business, local authority and charity partners to share this approach. A copy of this statement is available on The Bridge (East Midlands) website for organisations and partner organisations to inspect. This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act (2015) and constitutes The Bridge (East Midlands) slavery and human trafficking statement for the current financial year.