For me, attending the Trust Conference 2017 last week encapsulated having a huge shared sense of solidarity and purpose in the face of difficult challenges. This annual gathering is a unique forum that truly spurs us on to forge real change, through its’ ability to demonstrate and capture a searing collective energy.
This year there seemed to be an even stronger sense of the enormity of some of the challenges against a backdrop of an increasingly fragmented world.
With geo-political instability, economic and environmental uncertainty, increased conflict and migration on an exponential scale across borders, communities and individuals are even more vulnerable to the dangers of trafficking and exploitation.
The moving testimonies given by brave and resilient survivors who have been through harrowing experiences yet still strive on for justice, built a visceral connection with the audience, inspiring a palpable collective power that will stay with me.
Amidst the abundant challenges, the conference also unveiled new opportunities for working together. Encouragingly we learnt about innovative new models from NGOs, social enterprises, professors joining with tech giants, businesses working with government and border authorities, to combat forced labour exploitation.
The British Asian Trust absolutely believes in the power of partnership and driving social change together, and not as individuals. We want a South Asia that is free from inequality and injustice where all can achieve their full potential.
To achieve this, we are building strategic partnerships that can deliver impact and reach scale. Rather than creating new cumbersome institutions we are bringing together those who already have the power and resource to act, including NGOs, government, business and the diaspora.
But there is more to do to promote partnership and work more collaboratively. Events like the Trust Conference present great partnership opportunities and we must jump on them and make them successful.
Abha Thorat-Shah is Programmes and Investments Director at the British Asian Trust.