Shine A Light

Shine A Light writer Jenny McCall wins Anti-Slavery Day media award

Story exposing UK government’s failures to protect victims of trafficking judged “best news piece” on modern slavery.

Clare Sambrook
19 October 2015

Jenny McCall accepts her award from Home Secretary Theresa May, 15 October 2015

Jenny McCall has won an Anti-Slavery Day award for a story, published on Shine A Light at openDemocracy, that exposed failings in the UK’s system for protecting victims of trafficking.

Home Secretary Theresa May presented the “best news story” award to McCall for her story at an event held last Thursday at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

McCall’s piece, headlined, “Just how badly does the UK protect victims of trafficking?”, examined the National Referral Mechanism, the system designed to help trafficking victims. McCall uncovered serious failings.

“The National Referral Mechanism is a system designed to protect those who have been enslaved. But it has likely led to an increase in trafficking victims,” says McCall. “The Home Office is meant to spot someone who may have been trapped in slavery. Instead, when they questioned victims, they failed to act upon obvious signs that the person had been trafficked.”

The article was edited and published by Clare Sambrook, who leads Shine A Light, an investigative project that exposes injustice, challenges official lying, and provides intelligence and ammunition to people working for policy change.


McCall, the child of West Indian migrants, was educated at a London comprehensive and Brunel University. Last year she took her Masters in journalism from City University. Her work has appeared in openDemocracy, Vice News, Big Issue North and Al Arabiya.

Other Anti-Slavery Day winners included Guardian journalists Felicity Lawrence, who won best investigative article dealing with forced labour, Annie Kelly and Mei-Ling McNamara, who won best investigative article for child trafficking.

Ira Trivedi won best investigative article looking at sex trafficking, for her piece in Foreign Affairs magazine, entitled, ‘When a Bride to be is a Bride to Buy’. Sarah Shebbeare won best radio documentary for ‘Britain’s legal slaves’, broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

The event also paid tribute to documentary film-makers and stage productions. Ten Ten theatre, won best stage production dealing with modern slavery, for ‘This is my Body.’ Director Tim Keeling picked up the award for best film production, for his piece, ‘Yoke Farm’. Ed Watts won the award for best documentary for his Channel 4 Dispatches piece, ‘Escape from ISIS’.

Picture 2.jpg

Anthony Steen and Home Secretary Theresa May, Anti-Slavery Day event

At the event, host Anthony Steen CBE, Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation, said: “As we approach Anti-Slavery Day this weekend, let us not forget the thousands of people still living in slavery and remember the vital role the media play in drawing awareness to this important cause.”

In her speech Home Secretary Theresa May said the government would continue to work with the Human Trafficking Foundation and other charities such as the Salvation Army to help victims of trafficking.


Note: Pictures courtesy of Anti-Slavery Day.



Had enough of ‘alternative facts’? openDemocracy is different Join the conversation: get our weekly email


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData