Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement 2023/24

What is Modern Slavery?

It’s estimated there are more people in slavery than at any point in human history. Types of slavery include child trafficking, forced labour, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude. There is no typical victim of slavery, but it is prevalent among the most vulnerable or within minority or socially excluded groups, often “well hidden in plain sight”.

This statement is made in accordance with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the Act) which requires organisations like ours, with a turnover of more than £36 million, to publish an annual ‘Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement’. The statement sets out actions we have taken to prevent modern slavery from occurring in our business and supply chain for the financial year ending 31 March 2023.

Organisational Structure

Abri is one of the South of England’s largest housing providers, with 40,000 homes and assets. The majority of our properties are general needs housing, but we also have sheltered and supported housing, together with key worker accommodation, shared ownership, market rent and private sale properties. As we grow, we want to re-establish our strong local presence, deepening our connection with our customers and communities and providing a really good service to more than 100,000 people. We exist to create thriving communities and empower lives. It’s our central mission and one we fully believe in.

For the purposes of this statement, ‘Abri’ refers to Abri Group Limited and The Swaythling Housing Society Limited. Both organisations are housing providers and Registered Societies under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, registered with the Regulator of Social Housing.

Our Commitment

Abri takes a zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery across all areas of the organisation, as well as in our supply chains. We are committed to ensuring we are not connected to modern slavery in any way and our aim is to ensure that our business always operates in an open and transparent way.

Our commitment is reflected in our Anti-slavery and Human Trafficking Policy, which is available on request.

Our customers and communities

Abri has always sought to combat exploitation in its communities. Consistent with Abri’s corporate strategy, we want to tackle inequalities we can see across our geography. This means making strong, positive and life-changing contributions to our communities based on our growing understanding of the needs of those who live in them. Continuing to understand and address the risks of modern slavery in our neighbourhoods is important for us as we work hard to create thriving communities.

Our People

Our people policies emphasise our commitment to creating an inclusive environment in which colleagues are free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

We encourage a positive work-life balance and promote colleague wellbeing through a variety of initiatives covering physical health, mental health and financial wellbeing. Colleagues may raise concerns under our Whistleblowing Policy, Respect at Work Policy, or Grievance Policy. Colleagues also have access to a free, independent and confidential Employee Assistance Programme.

We maintain robust recruitment processes and our Resourcing Procedure contains all relevant requirements with regards to checking eligibility to work in the UK, employment reference checks, and any additional necessary checks such as DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service).

All our colleagues are issued with an employment contract which adheres to relevant UK employment legislation. Our job evaluation process helps to ensure that pay is fair and consistent.

Our Suppliers

Abri’s procurement activities operate in England. We aim to run our business to the highest standards and support the principles of the Act and the abolition of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Most of our suppliers and contractors are UK based companies but we know there will be some high-risk categories within our supply chain from construction, repair and maintenance and facilities management to some of the materials we purchase from overseas countries, for example, building materials and mobile technology. We follow The Public Contract Regulations 2015 which govern good practice in Procurement and seek to engage with reputable suppliers who comply with all relevant legislation, regulations and practices.

Supplier’s adherence to our values

Abri is committed in helping to tackle modern slavery and we strive to establish excellent working relationships with all in our supply chain to ensure they share and work towards the same values we hold.

Abri is committed to taking decisive steps to be more effective in combatting slavery. This statement summarises the steps we have taken in the last 12 months and the approach we will take over the next 12 months.

Steps taken in 2022/23

We identified five areas of action which resulted in:

  • Continuing to raise awareness of modern slavery with colleagues. Our ‘See Something Say Something’ reporting approach has continued, together with mandatory training for all.
  • As a result of Abri’s safeguarding audit in December 2022, we are aligning our Safeguarding Policy with our Anti-slavery and Human Trafficking Policy to ensure joined up thinking and additional awareness of the risks our customers face.
  • Partnering with Crimestoppers and in May 2023 we launched a specific campaign which focussed on modern slavery. Using social media we raised awareness of what modern slavery could mean for our customers, signs to look out for and encouraged people to speak up. We distributed posters and leaflets in our communities and featured an article in our customer newsletter.
  • Continuing to work with our local authority partners and the police, to manage and reduce homelessness to support those most at risk of being trafficked in to modern slavery.

Steps to be taken in 2023/24

  • Continue raising awareness of modern slavery with customers, colleagues and supply chain
  • Follow up any findings from our work with Crimestoppers
  • Ensure our training content remains fit for purpose
  • Focus on our high-risk areas to ensure suppliers are fully compliant with the Act.

This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) Modern Slavery Act 2015 and was approved by the Board of Abri Group Ltd.

wayne signature.png

Wayne Morris
Group Chair

26 July 2023