One of the UK’s largest recruitment agencies, Smart Solutions, has launched a new modern day slavery campaign to mark Anti-Slavery Day (October 18), raising awareness of the impact this crime can have and the organisation’s proactive approach to protect its workforce from exploitation.

The ‘Use Your Voice’ campaign seeks to encourage staff, clients and candidates to speak out against modern slavery, a criminal offence covering a range of abuse and exploitation including slavery, servitude, human trafficking and forced labour.

Smart Solutions, headquartered in Cardiff, South Wales, recognises that its industry and the industries it supplies are often targeted by Gangmasters seeking to exploit individuals for financial gain, particularly in the current tight labour market.

The company, which provides large-scale workforce solutions through its 82 branches and on-site locations across Great Britain and the EU, works closely with clients, business partners and charities to ensure that modern slavery does not occur anywhere within its operations or supply chain.

One of the organisations Smart Solutions has partnered with is international charity Hope for Justice. Founded in 2008 with the goals of preventing exploitation, rescuing victims, restoring lives and reforming society, Hope for Justice runs the Slave-Free Alliance business scheme which helps companies develop proactive strategies to deal with the threat of modern slavery.

The learnings and procedures put in place thanks to Hope for Justice’s collaboration has helped a number of Smart Solutions’ clients including long-term client integrated waste management company Biffa and their material recovery facilities.

To mark Anti-Slavery Day (Monday, October 18th), and their commitment to the detection and prevention of modern slavery, representatives from the charity and Biffa joined Smart for the launch of the campaign and the unveiling of their Freedom Wall at the firm’s Environmental Support Services Hub, the division most prone to the risk of modern slavery, in Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

The first Freedom Wall was put up at Hope for Justice’s head office and there are now many more around the UK and around the world, each covered in unlocked padlocks representing the lives that have been changed thanks to the work of the charity with the support of organisations like Smart Solutions.

Matthew Spaul, Managing Director of Environmental Support Services at Smart Solutions, said: “At Smart Solutions, we focus on modern slavery from top down and bottom up to ensure we have buy-in at all levels. Transparency and collaborative working have been key throughout our partnerships with clients, business workers and charities, helping us to make a real difference through bespoke solutions.

“It is more important than ever that we ensure compliance is a key business focus and the Use Your Voice campaign, as well as our Freedom Wall, reaffirm our commitment to following the highest ethical principles and eliminating the risk of modern slavery occurring across our operations and of those we work with.”

Afiya Howe, HR Business Partner at Biffa, said: “Smart Solutions have provided recruitment solutions to Biffa for over ten years. Since 2016 we have formed a strong partnership with Smart around Modern Slavery. They have supported our zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery and ensured that it remains a key business priority as our sector is more likely to be targeted by those wishing to cause harm.”

Hannah Symons, Corporate and Supporter Relations Manager at Hope for Justice, said: “We believe that awareness leads to action and Smart Solutions’ Use Your Voice campaign and Freedom Wall definitely brings this important issue to the forefront of people’s minds. We are pleased to work with both Smart and Biffa to actively make a difference.”