UK hotel group launches comprehensive anti-slavery programme

A privately-owned UK hotel group has launched what it claims is the first "industry-leading" anti-slavery programme in the sector, including plans to educate more than 400 staff members on identifying cases of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Shiva Hotels is rolling-out the staff training alongside a consumer-facing awareness programme across five of its properties, including the Kingsway Hall hotel in Covent Garden and the Hilton London at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.

Between July 24-26, Shiva Hotels will train staff members on safeguarding against the risks of modern slavery in hotel facilities, employment practices and supply chains.

Shiva Hotels’ director Rishi Sachdev said: “Modern slavery is an urgent issue that affects thousands of people across the UK and as a hotelier we have the opportunity to lead the way in addressing this issue. By ensuring our staff and guests are aware of the risks, we can help to prevent modern slavery and ensure the safety and livelihoods of those who may be at risk.”

A project from the European Commission found that 93,000 people are sexually exploited in European hotels annually, while a further 4,500 are exploited for labour. With an estimated 11,700 people thought to be living in modern slavery standards in the UK, Shiva Hotels is using the campaign to combat common occurrences.

According to Shiva Hotels, which has more than 2,000 bedrooms in London either operational or under development, common signs of human rights abuse include adult guests trying to conceal that they are with a young person, overly-controlling behaviour, and repeat booking made in cash without any luggage.

The consumer-facing campaign will be present in five Shiva Hotels that receive more than 750,000 guests annually. The campaigns will take place on Sunday 30 July to support both the United Nations’ Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking and World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

The campaign, driven by the #IGiveHope slogan on social media, aims to show solidarity for victims of modern slavery and information will be made available on what action customers can take.

Industry action

The campaign builds on last Autumn’s work by the Shiva Foundation, a corporate body of Shiva Hotels, that convened hoteliers including Hilton, WGC and Bespoke Hotels to form the Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network.

The network acts as a cross-industry platform to combat human trafficking and modern slavery by establishing sharable tools and guidance. On Monday (24 July), the network launched a resource hub, funded by the Shiva Foundation, to provide information access to a range of relevant anti-trafficking materials and resources.

Already, best-practice blueprints have been developed by the Shiva Foundation and piloted at the Double Tree by Hilton London Excel.

Commenting on the campaign launch, the British Hospitality Association’s chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said:The safety and wellbeing of those involved in the hotel industry – employees, guests, and all those involved in the supply chains – is paramount. The Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network will help ensure best practice in combatting modern slavery is shared and implemented across the board. The BHA is fully supportive and we will encourage its expansion among our members.”

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that human trafficking is the third-largest illicit moneymaking venture in the world – generating around $150bn each year.

UK businesses, or those that supply goods or services to the UK, have an extra incentive to focus on modern slavery. The UK Modern Slavery Act is the first piece of UK legislation – and the first in Europe – to focus on prosecuting and preventing acts of modern slavery in supply chains.

Despite the UK Modern Slavery Act entering into force in 2015, a report one year on found that business efforts to address modern slavery were being hindered by supply chain complexity.

Matt Mace

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