All things Ireland: The first edition


Welcome to All things Ireland

Welcome to All Things Ireland, a new weekly overview brought to you by the LGIU Ireland team. This first edition focuses on what the LGIU Ireland team has been up to as well as a tailored local government focus on reports and updates from across Ireland.

From the LGIU Ireland team

Whilst the rest of the LGIU team set off to Bath for the LGIU’s 13th year of Councillor awards in England and Wales, the LGIU Ireland team has three new briefings for local governments.

  • Reform of Ireland’s Planning Appeals Board. This briefing examines the background to the Action Plan and outlines the major reforms which have been approved by the Government and announced by the Minister.
  • Mixed-methods area profiling and reflections urban regeneration. This briefing paper recounts experiences of compiling a socio-economic profile of neighbourhoods that were included in an area-based urban-regeneration initiative in Tralee, County Kerry. It was commissioned by the local development company and involved a mixed-methods approach.
  • Levels of satisfaction and attitudes towards local authorities. This is the latest briefing in our series dealing with the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) reports. We examine this most recent effort to appraise both attitudes towards local authorities and the level of services being provided by Ireland’s 31 local authorities.

Reports and updates

Fingal County Council has been given the go ahead for a €10 million transformation of the Balbriggan town centre to deliver a unique public civic space in the heart of Ireland’s youngest town. This is the first and largest signature project to be brought forward under the Fingal County Council’s Our Balbriggan 2019-2025 Rejuvenation Plan. Find out more here.

The Simon Communities Ireland Locked Out report for September 2022 showed only 392 properties were available for rental, with September also seeing the lowest number of HAP properties ever recorded in the Locked Out of the Market reports. Read more from the Simon Communities here.

Pivotal’s newest briefing paper provides information about how Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government is working and that will change in the coming weeks. Find out more about what happens after NI’s October deadline here.

The week in Merrion Street…

  • On October 14th, Cork provided the forum for the Minister for Foreign Affairs attendance at the Ireland-Wales Forum in Cork. The event brings together Irish and Welsh ministers to exchange views and learning on key issues from trade, economic cooperation to renewable energy. In addition to the Ministerial Forum, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre Forde, welcomed the Welsh First Minister and his delegation to City Hall.
  • Following the Minister for Transport’s call to local authorities over the summer to submit their most innovative approaches to transport, the Department of Transport’s Pathfinder Programme announces 35 exemplar transport projects to be delivered by local authorities in 19 counties and 5 cities. Click here to find the full list of project summaries.
  • Following statements from the Chief Executives of Dublin City Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council last week, this week we saw Chief Executives from Cork City Council and Galway City Council discuss Implementing Housing For All at the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine published a report exploring the need for increased pan-European collaboration on peatlands restoration, conservation and sustainable management. The report summarises the findings of an exploratory study to discover how a European network could help overcome action and policy barriers for peatlands. You can find the full report here.
  • In housing, the Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Bill 2022 will defer no fault tenancy terminations that are due to occur during the coming winter months from taking effect until after 31 March 2023.
  • Minister for Justice Helen McEntee announced the allocation of grants totalling €2 million to successful applicants from the Community Safety Innovation Fund. 22 community projects across the country are set to benefit from grants ranging from €5,000 to €150,000, which will support the delivery of innovative projects to improve community safety in their local areas.
  • In planning, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage has commenced Section 22 of the Planning and Development, Maritime and Valuation (Amendment) Act 2022, which amends the judicial review provisions in Sections 50A of the Planning and Development Act 2000.
  • In Offaly, Minister Peter Burke launched a new initiative in Offaly County Council, aimed at increasing the number of women involved in local politics in Offaly which currently stands at 19.
  • Finally, looking forward to next week keep your eyes peeled for the Heritage Ireland conference. A free event, and open to all, the Heritage Ireland 2030 conference is set for Monday (24th October) at Trinity College. Heritage Ireland 2030 is Ireland’s national plan for the protection of our heritage. Find out more about this event here.

On a lighter note…

Crowned the “Halloween Capital of the World”, check out what Derry and Strabane Council have planned for 2022’s halloween weekend. To find out more about Halloween Celebrations in Derry, read this short piece from Tourism Ireland on the Irish origins of the Samhain festival and check in next week where the LGIU hears from Derry and Strabane Council.

Coming up…

Next week briefings from the LGIU Ireland will focus on COP-27 and we will hear from Derry and Strabane Council how they came to be the “Halloween capital of the world”.

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All things Scotland: Steering into November


Welcome to All things Scotland

As the rest of the LGIU team geared up for England & Wales 13th year of Councillor awards in Bath, this week the LGIU Scotland team brings you a range of briefings and reports to keep the local government and public sector as up to date as possible in these ever changing times.

On Monday, we saw the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Spearheaded by the United Nations, this year saw the 30th anniversary for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, with the theme centring on Dignity for All in Practice. To understanding how local government’s can tackle poverty in Scotland, make sure to check out these two LGIU Scotland briefings on child and fuel poverty.

Scottish leaders forum 2022 

Last week, we saw the first in-person Scottish leaders forum since 2019. Over 120 members gathered for the 2022 Scottish Leaders forum (SLF) in Tulliallan, a collaborative forum where Scotland’s senior leaders come together to discuss individual and collective action in pursuit of Scotland’s national purpose.

You can find an overview of the highlights and programme here.

Reports and updates

This week, Sustrans Scotland released a report providing insight on the extent to which the Scottish government’s active travel programme, Spaces for People achieved its overall aims. With 30 local authorities involved, this report evaluated the 1300 projects we saw over the last two years. Read more here.

The Scottish Association for Mental Health’s Still Forgotten report showed how two years into the pandemic, the majority of mental health support in Scotland is still being carried out remotely. The final of three reports considering the long-term impact of Covid on people with existing mental problems, make sure to read the full report here.

From Creative Carbon Scotland we saw a new report exploring the roles of arts and culture around COP26. The report explores why COP’s provide a special context for arts and culture to work in, provides detailed case studies of some representative projects, and offers tips and advice. Read the full report here.

Finally, this week we saw the Scottish Government provide the latest statistical release on Scotland-level data and information on people displaced by the war in Ukraine arriving through Sponsor Schemes. At LGIU Scotland we would like to congratulate the stellar work of all the Scottish local authorities involved in the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.

From the LGIU

Whilst the Scottish Parliament remains in recess, the LGIU has been busy preparing a bundle of briefings to keep Scottish local government up to today for its return on October 24th.

On a lighter note…

This week Argyll and Bute celebrated Dunoon Grammar being named the World’s Best School for community collaboration. With Academy Award winning actress Emma Thompson and actor and producer Greg Wise congratulating Dunoon Grammar School in Scotland, you can read more about Dunoon’s success from Argyll and Bute Council.

Coming up…

Keep your eyes peeled next week for the LGIU Global Local Newsletter which covers ‘Local Government – addressing the knowing doing gap…COP 26 one year on. Also for next week, we have the most up to date Holyrood round-up and you can also find out more on how Council’s are responding to the Cost of Living crisis, the key focus as we head into winter.

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Scotland Communities and society, Democracy, devolution and governance

And the 2022 Scottish Councillor award winners are….


Scotland’s 2022 Councillor Awards

This Wednesday (12th October), Dundee City Council hosted the 5th annual LGIU Scotland and CCLA Councillor awards in the the stunningly elaborate Caird Hall at Dundee City Chambers.

A sign of changing times, this year took the form of a three stranded hybrid event – some attendees and speakers joined us in person at the beautiful venue in Dundee, some speakers dialled in from Zoom, and the whole thing was broadcast live on YouTube for a wider audience to view. Make sure to check out the photo gallery at the bottom to see how the LGIU and CCLA recognise the tireless work of Scottish Councillors.

The ceremony was hosted by LGIU Chief Executive Jonathan Carr-West and BAFTA-nominated journalist Paul Murricane, with the audience made up of our esteemed shortlist and their families and friends, as well as Leaders, Chief Executives, MSPs and other stakeholders from across the sector to celebrate councillors who have gone above and beyond to support their communities during another challenging year.

Our speakers

We were delighted to be joined by several speakers and presenters including Cllr Bill Campbell (Lord Provost of Dundee), Cllr Steven Heddle (COSLA Vice President), Ben Macpherson MSP (Minister for Social Security and Local Government), Cllr Jackie McCamon (Dumfries & Galloway Council), Bailie Willie Sawers (Dundee City Council), Cllr Euan Jardine (Leader, Scottish Borders Council), Cllr John Alexander (Leader, Dundee City Council) and Heather Lamont (Director, Client Investments, CCLA).

After guests had enjoyed a drink and a considerable number of pies, the LGIU Chief Executive Jonathan Carr-West opened the awards by remarking,

“These awards are a real highlight of the year for everyone at LGIU because at LGIU we know how important councillors are. Everything that local government does comes back to councillors. And that matters because local governments matter. Councillor awards are an important chance to celebrate the incredible work of Councillors right across Scotland”

We then heard from Dundee’s Lord Provost, Cllr Bill Campbell who welcomed everyone to Dundee by extending a hand of friendship to everyone and remarked upon the range of excellent opportunities in Dundee.

The next speaker was Cllr Steven Heddle, the Vice-President of COLSA, who reminded us of the vital and unique role councillors play in our democracy by working tirelessly to put people first. Cllr Heddle emphasised the importance of strong local democratic governance and the need to empower people to make decisions that impact them, especially in the face of the challenges we face. Ben Macpherson MSP, the Minister for Social Security and Local Government, also joined us and was honoured to hear all the inspiring stories from the nominees and to celebrate the contributions of councillors with an important year ahead.

Montages were shown to demonstrate the impressive accomplishments of all the shortlisted councillors, focusing on key community projects that they had worked on and featuring interviews with residents who had been directly helped by the hard work of the councillors.

The winners!

There were five awards up for grabs this year with the categories and winners shown below,

  • Community Champion. Cllr David Macdonald – East Renfrewshire Council
  • Leader of the Year. Following this difficult year we feel it is essential to take this moment in time to celebrate all local leadership across Scotland from before and post the May 2022 local election.
  • Lifetime achievement year. Bailie Malcolm Cunning – Glasgow City Council (in memoriam)
  • Resilience and Recovery.  Cllr Maureen Chalmers – South Lanarkshire Council
  • Young Councillor of the year. Cllr Connor McManus – Midlothian Council.

It was an amazing opportunity to gather in person to celebrate everything that’s good about local government, and we were pleased that this hybrid style event ensured that we could be joined by colleagues from across the country.

Congratulations to all our winners – we look forward to seeing you at the 2023 Cllr Awards!

In case you missed anything, you can rewatch the Awards below,

Councillor awards gallery


Global Climate action and sustainable development, Communities and society

Community assemblies and climate action


For this episode of the Global Local podcast, LGIU’s Freya Millard chats with Elke Weissmann and Belinda Tyrrell from the Edgehill University about their recent project on using citizen assemblies to address climate change on a local level. The project examines the motivators and communication needed to encourage citizens to invest in tackling the impact of climate change in their local area.

Listen to the full episode here:

Link mentioned in this podcast:

Local Television and Community Responses to Climate Change research project

Keep up with Global Local

Sign up for the Global Local Recap newsletter by registering for free and choosing the Global Insight package.

Subscribe to the Global Local podcast in your favourite podcast app.


Welcome to All things Scotland

As we celebrate Scotland’s 5th year of councillor awards, this week LGIU Scotland team has a range of briefings and reports to keep the local government and public sector as up to date as possible in these ever changing times.

Monday was World Mental Health Day. Recognised every year on October 10th by the World Health Organisation, this year’s theme was “making mental health for all a reality”. To check out what local authorities can do to support their workforces mental health support, make sure to check out this briefing from the LGIU of local authority examples of community and workforce mental health support.

Lightening the load: mental health support for local government workers.

Councillor Awards 2022

We are proud to announce that the winners of the 2022 LGIU Scotland & CCLA Cllr Awards were unveiled Wednesday night at a ceremony held in Dundee’s stunning Caird Hall with hosts Dundee City Council. The ceremony was also streamed live on YouTube.

We were delighted to be joined by several speakers and presenters including Cllr Bill Campbell (Lord Provost of Dundee), Cllr Steven Heddle (COSLA Vice President), Ben Macpherson MSP (Minister for Social Security and Local Government), Cllr Jackie McCamon (Dumfries & Galloway Council), Bailie Willie Sawers (Dundee City Council), Cllr Euan Jardine (Leader, Scottish Borders Council), Cllr John Alexander (Leader, Dundee City Council) and Heather Lamont (Director, Client Investments, CCLA).

Discover the winners or watch the ceremony back.

Reports and updates

This week in Holyrood…

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre published a briefing on the National Care Service Bill. The National Care Service bill was introduced in June 2022 and this report provides an overview of the legislation’s four parts, background, issues, implications for local government and areas for scrutiny.

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre also brought us a Labour Market Update for October 2022 with a Scottish and UK focus on labour market trends with data from the Office of National Statistics.

Finally, the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee published a report evaluating the 2015 Community Empowerment Act. Check out the report here.

To find out more about Scottish local government, check out the LGIU Scottish Councils facts and figures.

On a lighter note…

Commencing the countdown to Christmas, this week we saw the confirmation of Edinburgh’s plan for the Christmas market. Filling the void left by previous contractors withdrawing, a new partnership between Assembly Festival and Unique Events means Edinburgh’s Christmas market is now set to run from 18th November to the 3rd January.

Coming up…

Next week’s briefings will include the most up to date Housing and Planning round up and you can also hear from Duncan Dunlop about his personal experience of delivering services for our most vulnerable children, an important policy topic in light of Scottish Government plan for a National Care Service.

Sign up today and stay connected with local government policy briefings, news, leading-edge research, training and more. 


England & Wales Democracy, devolution and governance, Finance

Big ideas, but little substance


Jonathan Carr-West is Chief Executive of LGIU takes stock of the political ideas and practicalities at the end of party conference season.

Ralph Waldo Emerson famously wrote that ‘a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’. I have always felt that the word ‘foolish’ does a lot of work in this sentence. I take it to mean that an unbending adherence to ideas in the face of evidence is a sign of intellectual insecurity and that it can easily lead to mischief, hence the ‘hobgoblin’.

The rigid application of a set intellectual framework to the complexities of the world means that we can find ourselves attempting to force through solutions that can never work. As Emerson’s contemporary Mark Twain put it somewhat more pithily: ‘To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail.’ This, incidentally, is one of the reasons why so many of the complex challenges we face are better solved by local institutions than by central Government.

But in politics, we also know that some degree of consistency is desirable, indeed necessary. Without consistency we cannot deliver and we cannot bring people with us. So perhaps we need to distinguish between good consistency and bad consistency. We need consistency of purpose and of values and while we need to be adaptive to circumstance we also need enough consistency of action for people to work with us. Rigid thinking and inconsistent action is probably the worst of all worlds.

So, a few weeks in to a new administration do we see much consistency of purpose in local government policy? It’s hard to say. There has been strikingly little talk of levelling up – though it did get a glancing reference in the Prime Minister’s conference speech.

We wait to see how much parliamentary time will be given to the Levelling Up Bill and several of the deals believed to have been agreed are still to be announced.

From the local government side there is increasing willingness, though little enthusiasm, to accept elected leaders as the price of devolution. Is this an example of adaptation rather than foolish consistency?

But it is not clear how much drive there is behind the agenda. Instead, the focus seems to be turning to investment zones, but these feel like an idea put together in a hurry without much thought to the process or to the governance of them.

Meanwhile, at its conference, Labour also had a big idea about local government – though it didn’t get much airtime: the abolition of business rates to be replaced by…well, that is still to be confirmed.

There is no shortage of ideas, many of which we have explored at LGiU: there are local sales taxes, a local share of income tax or differentiation between needs-based services and local ones.

We shouldn’t blame Labour for not having a fully developed policy at this stage; its main task is not to frighten the voters – though it has always surprised me that a party seeking to appear like a Government in waiting doesn’t make more of the fact that it actually does govern large parts of the country at a local level.

But if Labour ever does make it into Government it will find time suddenly accelerates and it will be under pressure to deliver such reforms at speed. Then, it too, will need to find the right form of consistency.

That is the key for councils, as we lurch from one single year settlement to another. Chief executives and leaders constantly tell me they don’t worry just about shortage of money, but about never knowing from one year to the next what their funding will look like and what new hoops they will have to jump through. A foolish consistency is no good, but the right type of consistency would be a gift beyond price.

This piece was originally published in the Municipal Journal. 


England & Wales, Global, Scotland Communities and society, Welfare and equalities

Modern slavery and the role of local government


What is modern slavery?

Anti-slavery International, who blogged for us this week,  defines modern slavery as “when an individual is exploited by others, for personal or commercial gain. Whether tricked, coerced, or forced, they lose their freedom. This includes but is not limited to human trafficking, forced labour and debt bondage.” 

Estimates vary on how many people are living in slavery. Walk Free, a Non Governmental Agency that focuses on modern slavery compiles a global index of the number of people impacted and a qualitative assessment of national government response. The UK government, for example, estimates around 10,000 people are ‘at risk’, but according to Walk Free’s numbers it may be as high as 136,000 living in modern slavery. The discrepancy is no doubt partly definitional, but also linked to the difficulty of counting people who are being illegally exploited and may also have their own reasons for living in the shadows – related to the nature of their work or immigration status. Either way, the number appears to be rising.

Global Local bulletin: Human trafficking and modern-day slavery


Crises begetting crises

The war in Ukraine, alongside worsening climate news has ushered in the looming challenge of a migration crisis and with it, the potential for cases of human trafficking and instances modern slavery to rise astronomically. Considered a “crisis within a crisis”, conflicts and huge upheavals can trigger individuals and families to flee, in disrupted and unsafe conditions. During these periods, people are often vulnerable and at risk of being exploited in their search for safety and security. Desperate, separated from loved ones or coerced with lies and deceit, victims may be taken in by offers of safety and security, which fail to materialise. Understanding that victims of modern slavery have often fled their home nations and faced violence and persecution is integral to providing supportive and caring services at contact.

In comparison, worsening climate change can also trigger unsafe migration; sudden events like flooding or earthquakes force people to flee in panicked conditions, and slow onset events such as drought and crop failure lead people to seek economic security and new livelihoods. Both these scenarios engender migrations of vulnerable people who are at-risk of modern slavery.

How does this lead to unseen victims?

While conflict and mass upheaval make migration and the risks of human trafficking apparent, there are also millions of victims who fall victim to modern slavery daily and go unseen. Olympic athlete Mo Farah recently revealed that as a child he was trafficked from his home country of Djibouti and forced to work in domestic servitude.

How can councils tackle such a challenging issue?

While the UK Home Office remains without an anti-slavery commissioner, andthe number of potential victims of trafficking hit record levels in 2022, it is essential that local governments consider their role in this ongoing humanitarian crisis. When considering the enormity of the challenge that is modern slavery, it can become overwhelming and tempting to become defeatist, however on the ground, local councils are well positioned to uncover community instances of modern slavery and help support victims through joined up service provision.

Local government, by the nature and breadth of its work, touches the lives of many people and there may be many opportunities to spot suspected cases.  From social services to the licensing and inspection of premises where exploited people may work or even the regular routines of parking inspectors and street cleaners or the surgeries of ward councillors, local government employees or representatives could encounter victims or perpetrators of modern slavery and need help to learn how to spot it and what to do with that information afterwards.

This week’s Global Local bulletin focuses on modern slavery and the role of local government in prevention, detection and support for victims. We welcome your feedback on this important issue and the opportunity to collect and share resources and information going forward.


This post was written by Louise Honeybul and Ingrid Koehler


England & Wales, Scotland Communities and society, Welfare and equalities

One day at a time: how local authorities can support modern slavery survivors


Modern slavery affects people throughout our communities. Survivors of modern slavery are our neighbours and it is often local organisations who deliver the frontline support to help them to recover and thrive in their freedom. While the legislative and policy frameworks in the UK to help victims of modern slavery recover and regain control of their lives comes “top-down” from national government, they are being delivered locally. However, there are significant problems in its delivery, with damaging impacts on the recovery of survivors.

Local governments have a key role to play in tackling modern slavery. Namely in identifying and referring potential victims and facilitating housing and accommodation in co-ordination support providers contracted by central government. Local authorities, as the ones who speak everyday with survivors of slavery, should be leading the way in co-designing with survivors processes that work informed by those who have experienced exploitation.

The UK, as a signatory of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (ECAT), and a subscriber to the Palermo Protocol, is obligated to provide for and legislate on recovery and support for victims of modern slavery. In 2015, the UK introduced the Modern Slavery Act to combat modern slavery and human trafficking, protect victims and created the role of Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

In line with its obligations, the UK went on to develop the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), a procedure for identifying and supporting trafficking victims. This initially constituted a fixed 45-day period for support for survivors to recover and regain control of their lives. However, after a legal challenge in 2019 brought by two survivors of trafficking, the Home Office conceded that the 45-day policy was incompatible with their international obligations for support as it was not responsive to individual needs.

As a result, in September 2019 the Home Office introduced the Recovery Needs Assessment (RNA). With this new system, if someone is confirmed to be a victim of modern slavery, they will then enter the RNA process. Support is provided in the UK via the Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract (MSVCC). The MSVCC is the central way that the government performs its duties to provide accommodation, interpreting, financial support, and other assistance to adult victims. They do this through contracting non-governmental organisations working in our communities – such as the Salvation Army – to deliver support.

The Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group, chaired by Anti-Slavery International produced “One day at a time” in Spring 2022, which took the first comprehensive look at the Recovery Needs Assessment process. The report charters the first-hand experiences of, not only those on the receiving end of support but also the experiences of Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract (MSVCC) support providers, along with, support workers outside of the MSVCC.

The report found that the system in place is failing survivors. Every survivor said that they had, at times, been destitute. By failing to provide for basic needs, the RNA leaves survivors vulnerable to the cost of living, increases debt, and hinders recovery, all things that can heighten the risk of being re-trafficked.

Based on the findings Anti-Slavery International has been calling for improved procedures to ensure survivors are not overburdened with providing the same documentation again and again to access support. When survivors are bound by administrative processes, where they may be unsure of the process and burdened with proving their entitlement to support, it can mirror the relationship formerly had with a trafficker and be a source of re-traumatisation. Standardised timeframes were also found to be vital to recovery and we recommended that survivors need a minimum of 12 months of support, tapered down in line with a person’s recovery. It is only when access to support for a specified period is certain that survivors can have the breathing space to recover and gain control of their lives. This needs to be paired with better and more consistent training for those professionals working at the local authority level and in our communities.

The report overwhelmingly found that the key to designing frameworks and processes to help the recovery of victims of modern slavery is engagement with survivors and local authorities have the power to take up this call. Local authorities should be asking if they can engage with survivor groups to deliver training to staff and council representatives who may come into contact with victims of modern slavery.

They should be asking survivors and those working with survivors what means are at their disposal to expedite procedures for delivering support. For example, by working with MSVCC contractors Bradford Council developed a process to ensure that if a survivor is a confirmed victim of modern slavery but also destitute, they are automatically treated as a high-priority case for housing and can be granted accommodation that day, under section one of the Localism Act 2011. This is one of many good examples of best practice at local government level collected by the Local Government Association.

Local governments can lead the way in improving the effectiveness of central government policy and bring about the design and implementation of systems to support the recovery of victims of modern slavery. There has been poor delivery and poorer engagement with survivors to improve support. Through boosted survivor engagement at the local level, there is the opportunity to elevate the voices of survivors to influence policies and frameworks that are built on lived experience and allow survivors to recover with dignity and gain control of their lives.


Global Communities and society, Welfare and equalities

Reintegrating victims of human trafficking – how do we change the narrative?


More than 50 million people are trapped in modern slavery,  according to the most recent modern slavery estimates. Given the hidden nature of human trafficking, limitations to accessing worldwide data, and other influencing factors, a definite prediction of the number of victims is almost impossible, however, such estimates provide a basis to understand the most vulnerable areas and groups, and the most common forms of modern slavery.

The Palermo Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children is an internationally recognised definition of human trafficking. According to the Protocol’s definition, there are three elements that comprise human trafficking:

  • The act (what happened?) ‘Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons’;
  • The means (how it happened?) ‘Threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person’;
  • The purpose (the reason behind the act) ‘For the purpose of exploitation… Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs’.

The Covid-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, and climate change have impacted the labour market and access to education increased extreme poverty and forced unsafe migration leading to a higher risk for all forms of modern slavery.

The 2021 global estimates of modern slavery for forced labour and forced marriage show that there are 27.6 million people in situations of forced labour on any given day. This number translates to 3.5 people in forced labour for every 1000 people in the world. Women and girls make up 11.8 million of the total in forced labour, while more than 3.3 million of all those in forced labour are children.

When it comes to forced marriage, an estimated 22 million people were living in situations of forced marriage on any given day in 2021. This is a 6.6 million increase in the number of people living in a forced marriage between 2016 and 2021, which translates to a rise in prevalence from 2.1 to 2.8 per thousand people.

Why so many people are trapped in it?

While the global estimates of modern slavery are appalling, many might ask why is it still happening. Human trafficking is the highest profitable criminal activity for organised crime groups, after the illegal smuggling of drugs and weapons. Traffickers move to prevent cash from attracting suspicion. For example, they may move it abroad, or they might use it to buy other assets or try to introduce it into the legitimate economy through businesses that have a high cash turnover. Regardless of the hidden nature of this crime, understanding some of the tactics traffickers use to profit and invest illegal money can empower institutions and businesses to uncover traffickers.

Lack of access to quality education and decent jobs increases the risk of human trafficking and becomes a challenging factor during the reintegration process for survivors. Alongside the influence of corruption, poverty, and conflict, the ‘why human trafficking endures’ is categorised into push and pull factors. Push factors are associated with social, emotional, geographical, and political factors that might make individuals vulnerable towards trafficking. For example, a government with high corruption rates, or a country in conflict or war, can increase the vulnerability of underprivileged groups towards human trafficking.

In contrast, pull factors are seen as a source of potential opportunity for victims. Such factors might include false promises of high salaries, financial support when the targeted victim of trafficking is facing an economic crisis or the ‘lover boy method’, where victims are being deceived by their partners, who promise to them a happy family picture, but instead profit from their trust and exploit them.

Addressing the root cause of modern slavery and pushing governments to take concrete action towards ensuring strong social protection systems and direct responses to traffickers and exploiters remain crucial.

How can we change the narrative?

When it comes to tackling human trafficking, survivor-centred approaches are a prerequisite to effective responses. A big question remains what happens after rescue. Survivors might be faced with stigma, insults, abuse and hate speech in the community. Such experiences have direct consequences on the process of reintegration. For example, survivors might find being away from the community stressful, frustrating, and anxiety-provoking. Additionally, isolation might trigger revisiting past experiences for survivors of human trafficking.

Many programs and initiatives that aim for survivors’ empowerment remain underdeveloped and short-term, not because of a lack of willingness, but mostly because of limited funding and a lack of survivor-informed processes.

A more survivor-oriented approach has been piloted in Albania, named EmpowerFULL. “EmpowerFULL” (FuqiPLOTË in Albanian) is a socio-economic empowerment model which assists in the economic reintegration of survivors of human trafficking, through personal development sessions and access to sustainable employment opportunities.

The model is divided into three phases:

  1. The first phase includes personal & career development sessions focusing on overcoming limiting beliefs, visualisation and reframing the victim narrative.
  2. The second phase allocates personal development funds to survivors to pursue vocational training or make changes to their appearance and style, aiming to help in the process of accessing sustainable employment opportunities.
  3. The final phase involves the provision of employment opportunities and paid internships to break the invisible barriers of accessing unstable labour markets.

Through this model, the EmpowerFULL team aims to work together with survivors to identify and break any visible and invisible barriers in their personal development and economic empowerment process.

As a final note – Poem ‘Rebirth’ by Alex Elle:

There will be moments when

you will bloom

fully and then

wilt, only to be born again.

if we can learn anything from

flowers it is that resilience is born

even when we feel like we are dying.

Anxhela has founded “EmpowerFULL” a socio-economic model for the reintegration of survivors of human trafficking. She holds an MA in Global Crime and Justice from the University of York (UK) and an MSc in Administration and Social Services.


Global, Ireland

At the heart of a devastated community


LGIU Chief Executive Jonathan Carr-West shares our condolences for the family and friends of those lost at Creeslough, hopes for the injured and our thoughts for those working in keystone institutions at the heart of the community.

A five year old little girl with her Dad buying a birthday cake for her Mum, their neighbour waiting outside in the car to bring them home, a young designer come home to be with her boyfriend having travelled the world in her studies, a woman serving her community in a shop at the heart of a quiet, tight knit community, a mum with her son picking up a few bits and pieces for the weekend, a brilliant young rugby player getting some ice cream with her friend, a young father originally from Australia stopping off, perhaps for a fill of fuel and a coffee, a man who spent his life caring for his very ill mother. People who reflect the plurality of a modern Ireland; diverse, engaged and so important to their community.

All lost in an unimaginable moment.

And at the heart of this tremendous loss, a response, from the public services of Donegal, supported by their neighbours across the border and throughout the Island.

The work of our emergency services, many part-time and voluntary, along with the leadership of their local authority is a story which is and will be so important to the people of Creeslough in beautiful Donegal. Their supreme efforts to rescue those injured and the all too many victims that did not survive cannot pass without a note of acknowledgement and condolence on our part.

As an international body leading in research and support for local authorities across the globe, we could only be in awe of the efforts of the Donegal County Council staff and other colleagues that have demonstrated, as they often do in their day to day efforts, their singular commitment to their County. Indeed, it is this singular commitment which encouraged us a short while ago to contact the Council to tell us their story which we hope to bring to our worldwide readership in early 2023. Once again, the Council, like so many with which we work, has demonstrated the very best of local democracy, underpinning our many diverse communities across the globe. Being there when needed and when it most matters.