On a rainy, late-November morning, Medaille Trust staff and Trustees from around the country gathered together for our Annual Conference. We were joined by Wiltshire Police and a group of inspirational speakers. And what a time we had!
Day one opened with Dame Sara Thornton, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, whose rousing speech inspired the team. Sara shared her strategy (focussing on victims, law enforcement, prevention, innovation and research), the need to tackle demand as well as supply, and ended: “I want to encourage you all because what you are doing is of great value and has great purpose.”
Sara was followed by the charismatic Mitch Menagh, who oversees The Salvation Army’s social action work, including their modern slavery team. Mitch shared about The Salvation Army’s homelessness programmes, highlighting that we’ve got a lot of work to do to change the perception of people in our society towards greater compassion to those vulnerable to homelessness and human trafficking. He rounded off with the wisdom of Yoda on the need to take action: “do or do not, there is no try.”
The session closed with the impactful Linbert Spencer OBE, Co-Founder of the Centre for Inclusive Leadership. Linbert shared about the importance of inclusion and our individual roles within our team. He outlined how diversity is pointless without inclusion, and that “inclusion is feeling respected, valued, safe and trusted, having a sense of belonging and being able to be my best self and do my best work.” Linbert ended with a personal challenge to each of us: each one of us is in part responsible for our work culture and can have a massive impact on it.
Day two started with a bang – two of our Albanian counselling partners, Sabjola and Irena, shared about their work. Sabjola highlighted how “supporting victims in their native language is so important and allows for a culturally sensitive approach,” and shared that “we need to support women to establish safety and emotional stability and to comprehend the effects of trauma so they can gradually increase their ability to cope with every-day life.” Irena shared that women in Albania are told “don’t ‘dress to impress’ because the ones you will be impressing are the traffickers”. She provided an overview of the preventative work of Mary Ward Loretto and how much they valued their partnership with Medaille Trust.
Next, Kirsty Hart from Bright Future led a workshop for our team. Kirsty shared an overview of the purpose of Bright Future: to “fast track into permanent employment survivors of modern day slavery. Working with 29 different referral partners and 18 different business partners to offer candidates paid work placements with the possibility of a permanent job offer following a non-competitive interview.” She celebrated that so far 54 survivors have taken part in a Bright Future work placement, with 40 permanent jobs as a result and said “every interaction I have with Medaille is a positive one.”
Finally, Zofia Duszynska and Saul Stone from Duncan Lewis Solicitors provided invaluable insight into some of the legal technicalities of the modern slavery system, taking multiple questions from our team, and shared about some recent cases that have delivered real breakthroughs for clients.
This year’s awards were themed around our new organisational values: respect, collaboration, compassion, empowerment and passion. We had a really tough job narrowing down the nominations to a shortlist and winners. Suffice to say, this organisation is packed full of wonderful individuals! But narrow it down we did. Here are the worthy winners:
Congratulations! We can’t wait for next year!