Talking Life’s specialist trainer Karen Livesey on Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking:


“Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

These were the closing words of William Wilberforce  in his famous speech on slavery to the House of Commons in 1791. Slavery was subsequently ‘abolished’ in 1833, only to be replaced by what we now know as ‘Modern Slavery’.

Many people in the UK think of modern slavery as something that occurs ‘in other countries’, never here, or that it is neatly confined to history books. It is an alarming but truthful fact that there are more slaves today than ever before in human history. Figures from the International Labour Organisation suggests there are more than 40 million people in modern slavery across the world, with nearly 25 million in forced labour; but it is important to remember that in addition to forced labour, modern slavery encompasses human trafficking, slavery, and servitude.

In human trafficking cases, exploitation can take many forms, including sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery, servitude, forced criminality and removal of organs. These are not easy subjects to deal with, but it is crucial for all front line professionals to understand the specific vulnerability of victims, (both adults and children) and to be able to offer identification, protection, care, and support for victims of modern slavery which is at the heart of the Government statutory guidance January 2021.

As the Home Secretary has said:

“We have made great strides in tackling it, but victims continue to endure unthinkable horrors. Victims of human trafficking, forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic exploitation cower in plain sight in our towns, businesses, and communities.”

Modern Slavery Unit (for advice & clarification re NRM) click here:

First responders and staff in other organisations need to understand the signs of modern-day slavery and be able to recognise indicators of abuse and exploitation which can include physical, psychological, situational, and environmental. This is particularly evident when considering child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation and County Lines.

It can be challenging to identify potential victims of modern slavery who may be reluctant to come forward or may not recognise themselves as having been trafficked or enslaved. There are likely to be barriers that prevent victims from disclosing or engaging with services. It is a disturbing truth that perpetrators and organised criminal gangs use coercive, controlling, and abusive means to dominate and abuse both adults and children.

Modern slavery training is for First Responders and anyone within public authorities who may encounter potential victims of modern slavery and who are involved in supporting victims. This includes certain public authorities, Police forces, the National Crime Agency and some organisations that are not public authorities as well as those working in the front line of health and social care.  Collaborative partnerships, multi-disciplinary and multi-agency working are fundamental to ensure that victims are identified, protected, and safeguarded. Individuals and organisations must have regard to the Modern Slavery Statutory Guidance for England and Wales, Jan 2021, which incorporates a view to developing a more consistent response to modern day slavery victims to ensure they are identified and receive the available and appropriate support.

Modern Slavery: Statutory Guidance for England and Wales

(under s49 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015) and Non-Statutory Guidance for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Version 2 Home Office January 2021. Click to view

When I was first asked to deliver Modern Slavery training many years ago the focus was on adults becoming victims of exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude. In more recent years, the Government investigations into Modern Slavery now reveal a wider scope of concern which includes human trafficking with particular emphasis on the needs and support of children and young people who can be trafficked as part of sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation which includes County Lines. I think, one of the most significant issues in Modern Slavery is the spiderweb-like network of connections between the different forms of exploitation, vulnerabilities of innocent people and the offensive perpetrators who seek to control, coerce, and abuse adults and children.

Participants on this training, who have included social workers, probation officers, housing association managers, early intervention workers, modern  slavery specialists, and diverse local authority workers are often surprised about the wide ranging signs and indicators of exploitation. Why is someone unable to give details of their accommodation? Does a person have money deducted from their salary for food or accommodation? Why does that individual have limited social contact and is dependent upon other people?  All of these- and many more – are potential ‘flags’ to some kind of exploitation.   Often participants in the training express shock and disbelief at the nature of the crimes being committed and the realisation that Modern Slavery and human trafficking are serious concerns in the heart of communities. “How can this be happening in today’s society?” is a frequent question and more importantly “what can we do about it?”

It is heartening to know the Government is taking significant steps to deal with Modern Slavery and human trafficking. We all have a part to play in recognising indicators of abuse and reporting appropriately to ensure we contribute towards an intolerant approach to perpetrators and ensure potential victims are safe and given positive strategies for recovery and support.

Karen Livesey,  February, 2021

Zoom v MS Teams: Which is best for Online Training? – by Katy Bennett, MD, Talking Life

Since COVID-19 hit the world, classroom-based training has come to a grinding halt. Gone are the days – at least for the time being – of trainers travelling up and down the country to deliver face-to-face training to organisations and businesses. So what now?

In mid-March 2020 I (and I know I’m not alone in this) had never heard of Zoom – had no idea what it was. Now, as a business we have premium user accounts and train over it every day. It’s being used for virtual training classrooms, meetings, one to ones, training OUR trainers and the occasional quiz! We used to use Skype as a virtual meetings tool, but I can now safely say that I haven’t logged into our Skype account for months (which is good because I don’t think we ever got through one meeting without being cut off).

So what is Zoom? It’s a ‘videotelephony and online chat service through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform and its used for teleconferencing, telecommunicating, distance education and social relations’ Essentially, it’s an online meeting platform with some nifty tools that you can use to make your meeting much more interactive as if you were all in the same room. Is it any good? In a word, yes. As I mentioned it’s got some great tools that make the world of a virtual classroom very life-like. For example, the breakout room function allows you to move delegates into virtual rooms where they can discuss and brainstorm ideas. The ‘host’ can move virtually between these rooms and input on delegates’ discussions. The ‘polling’ function allows anonymous polling results to be fed back to the host instantaneously – something you can’t do in an actual classroom! It’s simple and easy to use.

It does have its downsides. Many businesses, including a lot of Talking Life’s customers, have security and privacy issues with it. Zoom say they have resolved this, however a lot of IT Departments are still not allowing its use within their organisations due to this issue.

Which leads us into the other preferred online training tool, part of the Microsoft Empire – MS Teams.

Finding positives regarding MS Teams is hard.  Here are some – it’s a simple yet effective tool and is relatively straight forward to operate. It doesn’t require long repeated training sessions on how to use it, because it is quite simple. Also, a lot of organisations use it on a day to day basis, so from a training point of view, most delegates understand how it works. However, its simplicity is also its downfall. It has many of the same functions as Zoom such as sharing screen, mute, chat, hide video and participants list (and actually has a ‘download participants function – something that Zoom doesn’t have!) However, you can only ever see 8 other videos at the same time and you can’t pick which ones you can see. There is no gallery and speaker view as in Zoom, which is again one of the neat features about Zoom. There are no breakout rooms – though you can do a manual workaround and actually this does work well if set up correctly. Additionally, MS teams has been set up to work as part of peoples’ own organisations and it doesn’t like to mix them. This makes it difficult when setting up training across different organisations – but again, there are some (albeit long winded) fixes that we as an organisation have figured out to make sure that if we have to use MS teams when training, we do it right and it works.  MS Teams has a handy app which is easy to use and can be employed when out of the (home) office. Word from Microsoft is that more video screens and breakout rooms are coming soon so watch this (cyber) space…

In summary, the review is simple. Zoom has been built to run training and MS Teams to run meetings. At present we are delivering our training equally off Zoom and MS Teams and in fact, we have not found that using different platforms has impacted the quality of our training. The great thing is it works, They both work, our feedback is excellent and our customers are really enjoying the learning experience. Will we ever get back to the classroom? We are starting to do so, on a small scale, but in the meantime, whilst classroom based learning is out of favour, this substitute is just as good.










The Coronavirus Act 2020 and the implications for adult social care – by Helena Cava, Talking Life Adult Social Worker Trainer

The Coronavirus (CV) Act 2020 which took legal effect on 31st March, having been produced in a matter of days, has serious implications for those in receipt of, or those yet to access, adult social care support.

The Act introduced Care Act easements, which, in effect, downgrade a number of Care Act duties to powers. This means that the You Must or You Will of a duty become the You May or You Can of a power.  The guidance issued alongside the Act (Care Act easements: guidance for local authorities, updated 1st September, 2020) states that these easements should only be introduced when the workforce is significantly depleted, or demand on social care increased, to an extent when it is no longer reasonably practicable for it to comply with its Care Act duties.

The easements have to be formally adopted and the decision reported to the Department of Health and Social Care.

LAs are not prevented from doing anything they do currently but, where the easements are adopted, that authority is no longer required to do what they normally do.

What the powers actually change:

  1. – Local Authorities will not have to carry out detailed assessments of people’s care and support needs in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements.

There is the power to assess in every case.

  1. – Local Authorities will not have to carry out financial assessments in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements.
  2. – Local Authorities will not have to prepare or review care and support plans in line with the pre-amendment Care Act requirements

If a care and support plan is reviewed, there remains a duty to involve the person concerned.

  1. – The duties on Local Authorities to meet eligible care and support needs, or the support needs of a carer, are replaced with a power to meet needs.


This applies unless the LA considers that the failure to meet needs would result in a breach of a Convention right.  There is the power to meet needs in every case.


There are 4 stages identified, namely:


Stage 1: Operating under the pre-amendment Care Act Business as usual
Stage 2: Applying flexibilities under the pre-amendment Care Act Decision for Individual service type to prioritise short-term allocation of care and support using current flexibilities within the Care Act
Stage 3: Streamlining services under Care Act easements Decision to operate under Care Act easements as laid out by the Coronavirus Act
Stage 4: Prioritisation under Care Act easements Whole system prioritising care and support

Stages 3 and 4 operate under the easements.

The guidance also states that Local authorities will be expected to observe the ethical framework for adult social care (DHSC: Responding to COVID-19, the ethical framework for Adult Social Care – Values and Principles).  This framework provides a structure for local authorities to measure their decisions against and reinforces that the needs and wellbeing of individuals should be central to decision-making. In particular, it should underpin challenging decisions about the prioritisation of resources where they are most needed.

The values and principles are as follows:

  • Respect – This principle is defined as recognising that every person and their human rights, personal choices, safety and dignity matters
  • Reasonableness – This principle is defined as ensuring that decisions are rational, fair, practical, and grounded in appropriate processes, available evidence and a clear justification.
  • Minimising harm – This principle is defined as striving to reduce the amount of physical, psychological, social and economic harm that the outbreak might cause to individuals and communities. In turn, this involves ensuring that individual organisations and society as a whole cope with and recover from it to their best ability.
  • Inclusiveness – This principle is defined as ensuring that people are given a fair opportunity to understand situations, be included in decisions that affect them, and offer their views and challenge. In turn, decisions and actions should aim to minimise inequalities as much as possible.
  • Accountability -This principle is defined as holding people, and ourselves, to account for how and which decisions are made. In turn, this requires being transparent about why decisions are made and who is responsible for making and communicating them.
  • Flexibility – This principle is defined as being responsive, able, and willing to adapt when faced with changed or new circumstances. It is vital that this principle is applied to the health and care workforce and wider sector, to facilitate agile and collaborative working.
  • Proportionality – This principle is defined as providing support that is proportional to needs and abilities of people, communities and staff, and the benefits and risks that are identified through decision-making processes.
  • Community – This principle is defined as a commitment to get through the outbreak together by supporting one another and strengthening our communities to the best of our ability.

Alongside the framework, local authorities should also continue to respect the principles of personalisation and co-production.

Provisions not modified by the CV Act include the well-being duty, the market shaping duty, duties in relation to advocacy and safeguarding duties.

In total, just eight of the 151 English councils with social services responsibility have made use of the easements, and only two of these, Derbyshire and Solihull, have used it to cease meeting needs they were required to meet. (Source: Community Care 6th July).

Of those councils operating the easements, most were operating under stage 3 of the easements by not fulfilling their duties to carry out assessments, reviews or care and support planning.

Specifically, Birmingham said it was streamlining processes under stage 3 of the easements while continuing to provide care and support to people with eligible needs. It said this involved not providing hard copies of assessments or care and support plans to people and limiting choices of providers

Coventry was carrying out less detailed assessments because of the need to carry out virtually all of them remotely, doing less detailed care and support plans and not undertaking scheduled reviews. It said its workforce had not been depleted, nor had demand increased to the extent that it needed to enact stage 4 but, if it had to, it would contact people with lower-level needs to see what the impact of a reduction in care would be.

Warwickshire had developed a streamlined assessment and support planning process, for practitioners to use when they cannot use normal processes, and suspended some scheduled reviews because of the barriers to seeing people due to social distancing

By early July, no council was left suspending its duties.  The Act is due to stay in force for two years, but MPs can vote to remove provisions of the act at six-monthly intervals, with ministers required to oblige. The first such vote should take place this month.  Given the current increase in cases, we may well see more authorities adopt these easements as we head towards winter.

Helena Cava, September, 2020

For further information about Care Act refresher training click here

‘Bouncebackability’ – by Sean Liddell, Talking Life Trainer

‘Bouncebackability’– by Sean Liddell, Talking Life Trainer

In 2004 I came across a word I had never heard before. It made sense to me due to my love of football and the fact that the football manager, Iain Dowie was using it to describe how his team bounced back from relegation to promotion.

It still took me another four years to discover what Bouncebackability actually is.  In 2008, after being made redundant from a twenty year corporate career I discovered that I was either at the edge of an abyss or that I was at the start of an incredible opportunity.

This was my first self-aware encounter with resilience but certainly not my last. Over the course of the next twelve years I built my knowledge and experience of resilience which helped me to develop training courses and interventions which to this day have enabled people to become stronger, more self-aware and more resilient than they have ever been before.

Through a mixture of mindfulness, emotional intelligence, mental health and wellbeing techniques, I have been able to build the level of people’s resilience, especially when they have really needed it.

2020 is proving to be a year when Bouncebackability comes into its own. After COVID-19 hit, physical ‘classroom-based’ training disappeared overnight. Trainers like me had to dig deep and look at how we could achieve the same results virtually instead of face to face. We did not have any time, but we did have the choice to sit down and put our head in our hands  and we made very quick focused decisions about what to do and how to do it.

This was not necessarily about business development; this was all about helping our clients’ key workers to maintain their wellbeing and keep themselves psychologically safe through the most dangerous time that any of us have ever faced.

We began by making available several days a week to our clients to hold remote wellbeing sessions.  This involved talking during the sessions with the key worker and helping them understand how they could be more resilient, how they were being more resilient, and what effect this would have for both them and the people that they cared about.

This has been going on since the start of lockdown and is going to continue very probably through to the new year, the feedback on the wellbeing sessions has been tremendous, when faced with how they have been managing themselves up to now and reflecting on their incredibly courageous and professional performance in both their personal lives and their professional lives, the vast majority have accepted the new found levels of resilience and are using them as a reservoir to power through what they have to do to help each of their clients or service users, but also to take care of themselves and to refill that reservoir with self-care.

The training itself has transformed from experiential in the same room to virtual.   Often hundreds of miles apart but still experiential, reflection and learning using resilience techniques is not only possible, it has turned out to be even more empowering, getting delegates to experience changes within self in their home environments. This makes the experience all the more real and helps ‘stickability’ in regard to making these techniques become daily habits.

One technique that has proved incredibly popular and powerful is the emotional tripwire.  This has helped increase the resilience of those working at home and helps to reintroduce the work/life balance by creating a new home/work separation. It is a visualisation exercise and I advise: “at the end of the day, allow yourself 15 minutes to do a to-do list for tomorrow so no thoughts are required for tomorrow’s tasks; then turn off your laptop and put it away (very important!). You are going to take a walk as soon as you finish work: visualise the walk and get a picture in your mind of the half way point; picture yourself at the half way point holding a tripwire in your right hand. Plant it firmly into the ground and then take the tripwire in your left hand and plant it firmly into the ground on the left.”

“The virtual tripwire is now set.”

“As soon as you can, go out on the walk and proceed to process everything that has happened today; start to decompress, accept and let go of any incidents and emotions from today.”

“As you approach the tripwire, you are starting to become truly ‘present’ and then, taking a big step over, you start on your way back home.”

“What you will do now is focus on one good thing you are looking forward to tonight; this could be preparing, cooking and eating a wonderful meal, spending time with your loved ones, pets, a bath, shower or indeed a Netflix binge.”

“This is what you focus on until you return home, walk up your path, open your door, as you are now back from work and your home is now your home again.”

The success of this simple but effective technique has led to all kinds of positive feedback including: “The session was great in getting me to think about tools that I can use to prioritise my wellbeing as well as planning ahead for my future in a way that would not be too overwhelming. I was also recommended positive mindfulness techniques based upon the difficulties I expressed in regard to managing my thoughts. Overall this was a great service and provided me with a safe space where I felt comfortable to share my thoughts and reflect upon my achievements”

This is what has helped so many learners to reflect, evaluate and put into action new resilience techniques and it is helping so many people remotely work for an extended period of time.

2020, as well as being an incredibly difficult year is also an incredibly transformational year and for me, being able to help so many people realise what bouncebackability means and looks like to them has been a real positive.

True resilience comes from within, is derived from experience, and helps change our lives if, and when we consciously tap into our reservoir.

Resilience is something that we can all build, all it takes sometimes is someone to ask you the right questions and reflect your experience back to you to help you understand what level of resilience you have, and what level of resilience you can have.

Sean Liddell delivers a range of high quality resilience related training for Talking Life. Find out more here

On-Line Training – Is this the future?

These have been crazy times in the training world. Anyone not able to deliver their classroom training remotely will have faced an uphill struggle at the start of lockdown. So is this the future? Will reluctant clients now be less enthusiastic about face to face training or more so?  At Talking Life, we realised that only a handful of courses cannot be delivered successfully on line and the evidence is mounting that many of our public sector clients are willing to move to remote training, confident that the outcomes are as good as with classroom training and with the enthusiastic backing of their staff who have given the ‘thumbs up’ from the comfort of their own homes.

This from an East Midlands Social Worker: “It worked really well on Zoom and I would happily attend more virtual courses like this.”

Starting with free, online wellbeing support sessions via Zoom and Skype for some of our client organisations, our online topics now cover a wide range, from Safeguarding Adults and Domestic Violence, to Resilience, Mental Health, Bereavement & Loss, and Working with Difficult to Engage Clients.

There have to be some adjustments for online training: smaller class sizes (the optimum turns out to be 10) allowing both trainer and attendees to get the best experience and course length: splitting one day courses into two sessions, sometimes days apart. (Two-day courses can be split into more sessions) as there is a recognition that spending longer than a few hours on a Zoom session can be intense for trainer and student alike. Handouts can be downloaded from our website and registrations and certification are managed electronically as well. And the technical aspects of this huge operation? Well they’ve been surprisingly trouble-free. We can offer training on most platforms, but the most popular are Zoom and Skype and, for some local authorities where they use it: Microsoft Teams. There have been virtually no freeze-outs in this new virtual training world, and associate trainers have had to manage the various platforms themselves, but overall, the experience has been good.

Our trainer Sean Liddell, who volunteered to deliver those original free wellbeing sessions and who has delivered many courses since,  reckons the ‘virtual’ experience has been well received but as a trainer and facilitator he has had to make some adjustments. He says:

“There are several factors that are different when conducting virtual training; the first obvious one is that the body language is less obvious to see – micro expressions can be missed,  especially if people are reluctant to turn on their video. For the trainer, there is more concentration required on watching people’s reactions on the ‘gallery view’ to pick up on what we would see easier with full body communication.

This also works the other way around and I, as the facilitator have to ensure my body language from the waist up conveys the feeling and energy I want it to at any given point. I have found that I expend the same amount of energy as I do when face to face training and usually end up quite tired at the end of a morning and afternoon session.”

“I have found that people prefer a slightly shorter session with regular breaks on the hour and this really helps the flow.   Also, keeping delegates unmuted is very effective as it mirrors the face to face and they are more likely to say something off the cuff rather than thinking about where the ‘raise your hand’ button,  is which is vital to get honest comments, reactions and feelings.”

“Having a breakout room facility is excellent and really helps the sessions, delegates still get a chance to talk in smaller groups which helps the personal connection as well as engaging in a smaller team exercise.”

According to Sean, people are very well mannered when it comes to questions:   “Mirroring the face to face training, I have encouraged questions throughout. If two people start to talk, one will always apologise and offer for the other person to talk first. I very rarely have to manage interruptions or overtalking and this would happen anyway in the live setting.”

Overall, Sean reports that delegates have responded really positively and that this bodes well for future ‘remote’ sessions: “the feedback I have got has been excellent, really positive and most people’s views are that they want to continue with a blend of virtual training and face to face as it saves so much time, expense and travelling.”

So Is on-line as good as classroom training? Well nothing can quite beat the classroom experience where trainer and learner can interact closely with each other but the feedback from the courses we have been running online in the past few months has been excellent with many delegates expressing surprise at the outstanding outcomes they’ve received from the training they’ve taken part in, beyond their expectations. So I predict there will be a lot more training undertaken this way, even when things do get back to normal, with previously reluctant clients now seeing the benefits of a less expensive, less time consuming training experience.

Let us have your comments about how you see the future for on-line v classroom training