A project to raise awareness of modern slavery in the West Midlands and promote support for victims will be relaunched on Tuesday 8 February.

The Look Up Project is a six-year partnership between the Medaille Trust and the Archdiocese of Birmingham. It started raising awareness of modern slavery in 2019 with several talks in churches in the West Midlands. A number of churches and individuals pledged support for victims. However, the project’s progress was curtailed by Covid-19 the following year.

On Tuesday evening at 6pm an online Zoom event will relaunch the Look Up project with the hope that people will become more aware of modern slavery and join in efforts to support victims.

There are over 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK. The Home Office says the West Midlands is the second highest area for referrals of possible victims of slavery outside of London. West Midlands Police estimates that there are over 4,200 victims of modern slavery in the region.

Tuesday’s relaunch event will be opened by Archbishop Bernard Longley. It will feature presentations by Modern Slavery Coordinator for West Midlands Police Michael Wright, the Manager of a Medaille Safe House, Sam Baxendale, and Katie Moreton, also from Medaille Trust, talking about how to provide support for victims in the community.

The relaunch will coincide with Saint Josephine Bakhita Day. Saint Josephine is the patron saint of human trafficking victims. She was sold as a slave several times out of her birthplace of Sudan into Italy.

Speaking ahead of the event, Medaille Trust CEO Garry Smith said: “Slavery in any form is unacceptable and must be rooted out. It is a sad fact that in modern Britain we had over 10,000 victims referred to authorities in 2020, with almost half of them being children. The most common nationality of potential victims in 2020 was UK nationals, accounting for 34% (3,560) of all referrals. The most common forms of exploitation reported were labour exploitation for adults and criminal exploitation for minors. As one of the largest providers of safe houses for victims of modern slavery, the Medaille Trust stands ready to reach out and help those escaping the clutches of ruthless criminal gangs. We will do all we can to make more people aware of this issue.”

Register for the Look Up relaunch

Photograph: Archbishop Bernard Longley and Medaille Trust CEO Garry Smith at the Look Up launch in 2019