An MP has shared his pride at being “perhaps as the first male MP in the chamber” to display painted nails in the House of Commons.
As fans of a good manicure know, a statement nail can speak a thousand words and Darren Jones used his pillar box red nails to raise the issue of modern slavery, which has been found to occur in some nail bars.
“In one of my first constituency surgeries as a new MP, a constituent came to me with little English, tearful, unable to communicate the sheer disempowerment and lack of dignity she had suffered from sexual exploitation in another part of this country,” said Jones who represents Bristol North West.
An unusual form of preparation for a debate in the @HouseofCommons but happy to support the @UnseenOrg @ASPolice #LetsNailIt campaign today. pic.twitter.com/QMVsWp6qvD — Darren Jones MP (@darrenpjones) October 26, 2017
Jones’ comments today [Thursday 26 October] came during a debate on the review of the Modern Slavery Act.
He and MP Kerry McCarthy had painted their nails in support of the charity Unseen and its ‘Let’s Nail It’ campaign.
The Bristol-based charity works with survivors of modern slavery and trafficking. They have teamed up with The British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology (BABTAC) to work with salons and the public to raise awareness of slavery in nail bars nationwide.
The ‘Let’s Nail It’ campaign involves people taking a photo of themselves putting two fingers up to slavery in nail bars and sharing it on social media with the caption: “I’m taking a stand against slavery in nail bars #spotthesigns and #reportit to @MSHelpline 08000 121 700 #letsnailit”
In the Commons, McCarthy spoke about a police raid on a nail bar in Southmead, Bristol, in which four people were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and slavery offences.
“The Southmead nail bar raid was prompted by a tip off from a member of the public who raised concerns about a woman’s welfare,” explained McCarthy who represents Bristol East.
“Without that intervention it could have taken a lot longer for the victim to be identified and taken to a place of safety.”
Hands of MPs for Bristol East & Bristol NW @KerryMP & @darrenpjones supporting @ASPolice tackling slavery in nailbars etc. pic.twitter.com/WPqf9FV7DJ
McCarthy also offered advice for nail bar customers who want to watch out for signs of slavery.
“Many of the calls [to Unseen] about nail bars cite the physical or psychological state of workers, inappropriate sleeping accommodation on the business premises, poor working conditions, lack of spoken English, cheap prices, cash only transactions and concerns of abuse and violence,” she said.
“Customers need to be aware of these signs so they are never unintentional supports of organised crime.”
Supporting #LetsNailIt campaign, I lent @darrenpjones my nail polish, but didn’t tell him I don’t have any remover! https://t.co/PGbYiRvLEy
Unseen’s managing director Kater Garbers told HuffPost UK she “applauds” Jones and McCarthy for wearing bright nail varnish to raise awareness of the ‘Let’s Nail It’ campaign.
“We have seen a correlation between the campaign and the number of calls to the helpline,” she said.
“Up until September this year, we have received information on the helpline about 116 potential victims situated in over 35 locations across the UK in nail bars.
“As the public learns about signs and indicators of modern slavery, our calls increase.
“Over the last two months, we have had an increasing number of disturbing cases reported – an indication that these campaigns and media coverage of the real issue is making a difference.
“This is exactly the sort of response we want – an understanding that modern slavery and exploitation may be occurring in some of the nail bars people regularly use and then to have the confidence to pick up the phone and speak to someone about it if they have concerns.
“As a direct result of the campaign Avon and Somerset Constabulary have already received three reports of suspected modern slavery in nail bars and a car wash in the force area, that are now being followed up.”
She added that in 2018 the charity would like to encourage all MPs and all police forces to paint their nails to raise awareness of this crime.
However, we were little disappointed to see this is unlikely to become a regular look for Jones, as despite McCarthy’s best efforts he couldn’t wait to take off the polish post debate.
If you need help, or you think someone may be a victim of slavery or exploitation, you can call the confidential UK modern slavery helpline run by Unseen on 08000 121 700 or report it online.
Scroll down to see more manicures worn in support of the campaign this year.
Brilliant speech and very well polished nails on @darrenpjones to highlight #letsnailit campaign to highlight modern slavery in nail bars pic.twitter.com/gEA7Fsar4z — Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) October 26, 2017
Here’s @ASPJoeIles sporting some bright blue talons for #AntiSlaveryDay #LetsNailIt. Tweet us your nail pics ☺️? https://t.co/qg50zYlyJt pic.twitter.com/w0UzrkSh1X — Avon&Somerset Police (@ASPolice) October 18, 2017
We’ve bent uniform rules to let officers paint their nails in support of #AntiSlaveryDay #LetsNailIt ACC Nikki Watson chose neon yellow ☺️? pic.twitter.com/ctTacvBYA5
October 18, 2017
This is how we Sunday @AMHordern. Tks @LeSalonApp for donating £££ to @UnseenOrg to help victims of trafficking when we mani #letsnailit ??? pic.twitter.com/pnJlWDoTsm — Emma Sinclair MBE (@ES_Entrepreneur) October 22, 2017
I’m supporting @UnseenOrg with bright yellow nails for #letsnailit campaign. I was surprised modern slavery exists in some nail bars. pic.twitter.com/cHf6lh5Y6J — Steph Mulrine (@StephMulrine) October 22, 2017
Working with @BABTAC for #Letsnailit 2017 to slavery in nail bars. Put two fingers up to modern slavery. Click here: https://t.co/hL0YXHFFZX pic.twitter.com/tnkxR9iWpI — Unseen (@UnseenOrg) October 4, 2017
Slavery affects all sectors. Getting ready to support @UnseenOrg @NCA_UK My neon nails match my dad’s fishing nets! #letsnailit #slavesatsea pic.twitter.com/vDRhnYlkco — CGollop (@ClareGollop) October 15, 2017
@LillyTwydell booked her Unseen Deelightful Mani by me thankyou for supporting #letsnailit @UnseenOrg @BABTAC pic.twitter.com/EQE4bA5cV5