Modern Slavery Statement

Versus Arthritis is committed to continuous improvement to ensure we combat the risk of modern-day slavery and human trafficking within our supply base. We have taken significant steps to ensure that our major suppliers confirm their commitment to the same. By “major” suppliers, we mean any supplier with whom we spend more than £0.5 million in a financial year of the Charity.

Slavery was abolished in the UK more than two centuries ago, but exploitation continues. We know that this abhorrent practice continues today across the world in various forms, especially in the form of human trafficking as well as forced and bonded labour. Our Anti-Slavery Statement reflects our commitment to acting ethically and with integrity in all our business relationships and to implementing and enforcing effective systems and controls to ensure slavery and human trafficking is not taking place anywhere in our supply chains.

This Statement is therefore made as a matter of best practise and pursuant to section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. It constitutes Versus Arthritis’ slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 31st March 2022 and covers the activities of Versus Arthritis and its wholly owned subsidiary: Versus Arthritis Trading Limited.

Structure and Supply Chain

Versus Arthritis has around 360 employees and over 12,000 volunteers based in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Most of our employees are directly employed and are not in any category which is generally seen to be vulnerable to modern slavery in the UK, so our focus is to ensure there are appropriate standards, policies and procedures in place for our contractors and suppliers.

The charity uses a wide range of suppliers who supply goods and services that support the operations of the Charity. The Charity recognises the importance of its role in implementing the guidance of the Modern Slavery Act and the consequence of its implications.

Our supply chains include the following operations from time to time:

  • Print services, storage and fulfilment
  • Information Technology Suppliers
  • Creative and Design and media buying consultant agencies
  • Facilities Management Services
  • Agency staff based in the UK
  • Travel Management Suppliers
  • Specialist Consultancy and Research Agencies

We have a global annual turnover of around £25 million.

Policies on modern slavery

Policies and procedures are in place aiming to minimise the risk of modern slavery in our supply chain. This includes a Procurement policy that sets out requirements for buying goods and services and due diligence required on suppliers; and a Whistleblowing policy and procedure that encourages employees and volunteers to report any concerns.

The procurement policy includes a specific section on ensuring the risk of modern slavery in our supply chain is minimised. The procurement policy is used to draw the attention of the charity’s employees and volunteers to the risks relating to modern slavery and child and forced labour, ensuring that they have access to the necessary information.

Due diligence processes

Due diligence is carried out on ALL preferred suppliers. We will carry out risk assessments for new suppliers to consider the likelihood of maltreatment of staff or other unsatisfactory factors. This may mean that we decide not to work with them or seek further information, or assurances, before proceeding. For new suppliers, where a higher risk is identified:

  • If the supplier is required to comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, we will request and review their own published policies on modern slavery.
  • All suppliers: we seek declarations that they meet appropriate requirements and may ask them to give information on their procurement and working practices.
  • We will apply appropriate vetting procedures, based on the level of risk identified, to ensure we are comfortable that any risks involving slavery can be identified and addressed promptly.

Training

To ensure a high level of understanding of the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking in our supply chains and our business, we provide appropriate support and guidance to employees who have procurement responsibilities.

Measuring effectiveness

Our Organisational leadership team considers (including but not only: by ongoing monitoring and reporting by the Procurement team to our Organisational Leadership) the effectiveness of our measures for ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of our business or supply chains; and would report to the Board of Trustees of Versus Arthritis accordingly.

Approval

This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) of the Act and constitutes Versus Arthritis’ anti-slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 31 March 2021 and has been approved by Board of Trustees on behalf of Versus Arthritis and its charitable and trading subsidiaries.

Date: 16 September 2021

Rodger McMillan, Chair of Trustees