As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 12th July, Stephanie stood up in Parliament to champion Northern College’s new ‘Free Thinking’ course that seeks to help survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking.
The initiative was set up at the local college to help those who have recently been helped out of modern slavery; where people are literally used as a slave labour – facing not just work without pay but life without freedom.
Over 5,000 people were identified as victims of this practice in 2017, along with human trafficking – an increase of over a third.
The College’s course – set up by Cllr Chris Lamb – seeks to equip survivors with functional skills and knowledge, confidence and trust so that they can live and work in the UK, or return to their home country if they wish.
With the first course commencing last May, 14 students from 11 countries were welcome to the college.
However, following funding concerns due to Government rules that prevent the college using their education grant – possibly meaning the course is limited in future – local MP Stephanie championed their cause in Parliament.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the MP paid tribute to the fantastic local initiative and demanded a meeting with the Education Secretary to discuss the funding issues the college faces with its modern slavery course.
She has since secured the meeting, and will be putting forward the problems faced by Northern College to the Education Secretary in the hope of securing financial security for the course.
Stephanie said: “In this day and age, it can seem almost unbelievable that slavery exists in a country like ours, but unfortunately this is the case.
“However, the course provided by Northern College is a fantastic local initiative that admirably seeks to help survivors of this barbaric practice, along with the appalling system of human trafficking, by providing them with the means to commence their normal lives again.
“But due to Government regulations the college has financial concerns for the course, and I took the opportunity in Parliament recently to champion its cause and push for secure funding.
“After pressing the Government on this issue and pushing for a meeting, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to discuss Northern College’s modern slavery course further with them.”