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Ten UK businesses have signed up to Bright Future, an innovative scheme devised by the Co-op, to create jobs for victims of modern slavery.

Household names Body Shop (in partnership with Single Resource) and Dixons Carphone along with eight others, including independent Co-op societies, food suppliers and Marshalls Construction, have become Bright Future Business Partners and pledged to provide employment for people rescued from enslavement.

Under the Bright Future scheme victims are offered a four-week paid work placement leading to a non-competitive interview. If both elements are successful the candidate will be offered a permanent job within the host business.

The businesses that have joined the scheme will now work hand in hand with a nationwide network of local victim support charities, established by anti-trafficking charity City Hearts and the Co-op, to identify suitable applicants.

Already more than 30 vulnerable survivors are being given a chance to rebuild their lives by the Co-op and it is envisaged that up to 300 will secure placements through the Bright Future programme by 2020.

Pippa Wicks, Deputy CEO of the Co-op, said “We think of slavery as something from the history books but it is happening in the UK at this very moment.

“Having heard at first hand the harrowing stories of people who have been caught up in this heinous crime, I am proud that we are working to help eliminate it and that others are now joining us in providing job opportunities.

“It is clear that victims need to be supported while they rebuild their lives and central to that is the dignity that paid, freely chosen employment provides. Without this, there is a real chance that they could fall back into the hands of those who have exploited them and for the terrible, unspeakable cycle of enslavement to begin again.”