This Sunday, the First Sunday of Epiphany, is Plough Sunday in the Church of England calendar. Observance of this goes back to Victorian times, but behind it there is a much older observance dating back to medieval times.
Many churches use Plough Sunday as a focus for asking a blessing on human labour near the start of the calendar year.
Our farmers do a hard but essential job, producing our vital food in an environmentally conscious and ethical way, and in a very challenging economic climate. But as we pray for all those who labour in agriculture, we must also pray for those in our Diocese who are exploited by organised criminal gangs to work as modern slaves in our rural areas. The gang behind the biggest Modern Slavery case in the UK operated in our Diocese and the Lichfield Diocese Mothers’ Union and Transforming Communities Together are partnering to stop this!
Awareness is a big problem, as we can so often think that ‘it can’t happen here’, but the National Crime Agency report Modern Slavery in every town and city and increasing in rural areas.
Awareness by churches and communities is the first key to tackling this exploitation of fellow humans, and Debbie Huxton, our Modern Slavery Campaigner is there to empower people to understand more about Modern Slavery and its various forms. She runs regular free awareness raising sessions, as well as podcasts and videos you can access to learn more.
She has also assembled a wide range of resources, apps and prayers to help people in the Diocese move from indifference about Modern Slavery to making a difference! Debbie is available to speak at Mothers’ Union groups and in Church services and other settings.