A seminar is to be held in Spalding to look at ways of tackling trafficking in the Fens – identified as one of the country’s hotspots for modern day slavery.

The event is being organised by The Santa Marta Group, an international initiative of the Catholic Bishops throughout the world working in partnership with the police and other agencies to bring an end to human trafficking.

It will be held at St Norbert’s Church on Saturday, November 30.

The head of the Catholic Church in England & Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has said: “It is a fact that human trafficking exists in every country, and probably in some form in every city and town.

“It is perhaps hard for us to comprehend that people are being tricked, deceived and traded in our part of the world, but the Catholic Bishops have been aware of the particular problems in The Fens for some time and have decided now is the time to act.”

Parish Priest of St. Norbert’s, Fr. Jim Burke, explained how he was initially contacted by Bishop Patrick Lynch, chairman of The Santa Marta Group UK.

Bishop Lynch worked as a priest in Peterborough for a time in the 70s, so he is familiar with the local area and he sees Spalding as a central base between Boston and Peterborough, and with permission from the Bishop of Nottingham, The Rt Rev Patrick McKinney, is hoping to launch a Santa Marta Project, based at St. Norbert’s.

The project is being co-ordinated by Fr. Mark Odion who is the African Project Co-ordinator, based in London.

Fr. Odion explained that the seminar aims to raise awareness of the trafficking situation and abuses that go on within the agricultural sectors around the Fens and nearby Peterborough and Skegness.

He said: “We would like to invite all local companies working in the agricultural sector to join us for the seminar – but, we would also like to issue an open invitation to anyone who would like to help us in our mission to help those who have been trafficked and to end this exploitation of vulnerable people.”

The seminar is free to attend, but booking is essential. To book a place, contact St. Norbert’s Parish Office on 01775 722056 or email: admin@stnorberts.org.

For more information about the seminar contact: santamartagroup@cbcew.org.uk. For more information about The Santa Marta Project visit: www.santamartagroup.com.