Cycle ride to highlight scourge of modern slavery
Raising awareness of the slavery practices that still take place today, including in the UK, is the focus of a gruelling bike ride later this year
Simon John, a 75-year-old retired lawyer from Norfolk, will cycle from Lands End to John O’ Groats from 27 April.
The ride is a homage to abolitionist Thomas Clarkson who 200 years ago rode on horseback to towns up, down and across the UK, to raise awareness of the suffering that was then taking place due to the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Simon believes that many people still do not understand the pervasive nature of modern slavery and what citizens can do to stop it. He will therefore deliver talks to schools, faith and community groups within the villages, towns and cities that he passes on his journey.
‘I feel great outrage and sadness that millions upon millions of my brothers and sisters around the world are being held in abject misery,' Simon said.
‘While in the rich world we are suffering, the vulnerability to exploitation of the most marginalised, is greatly increased by Coved-19.
‘What turns the knife in my side is that this is being done for me and in my name. It is done so that I may enjoy slightly cheaper clothes, food, electronics and so on. I speak of course of human trafficking and modern slavery.
‘I feel passionate about these voiceless downtrodden brothers and sisters of ours. That's why I'm aiming to help raise awareness of the scourge of modern slavery, and of how our generations can end it together and restore dignity to those in suffering.’
Simon is fundraising for Anti-Slavery International for whom he first cycled in 2018 when he completed the Prudential 100 Ride London. He regularly delivers talks on modern slavery within the Amnesty speaker network and as secretary of the global Rotary Action Group Against Slavery (RAGAS). He attends Thetford Christians Together meetings and has presented there on modern slavery.
In the course of his advocacy Simon has connected with Dan Pratt, who founded and leads Together Free, the Baptist movement seeking to work with local churches to end modern slavery and human trafficking.
Dan encouraged Baptist churches to support Simon's endeavours.
‘Simon's cycle ride is a great way to raise awareness about modern slavery occurring within the UK. As he travels through Scotland and England, it would be great if Baptist churches along the way would encourage him.
‘It's an opportunity for churches to learn more about modern slavery, through Simon's workshops and a way to help antislavery charities that Simon is supporting through this sponsored bike ride.’
Given uncertain restrictions over COVID-19, Simon will give presentations virtually via Zoom or similar, from a campervan he has acquired as a base and support vehicle. The presentations take 30-40 minutes.
Simon’s ride will take him to Bristol, Worcester Cathedral, Birmingham’s Volunteer Expo, the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, Manchester, Cumbria, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and onwards.