A growing number of businesses are creating hundreds of jobs to help victims of modern slavery.
An employment scheme devised by the Co-op is signing up firms at the rate of one a week, offering victims a four-week work placement and job interview.
Steve Murrells, chief executive of the Co-op, said the development was corporate responsibility at its best.
“Not only is business stepping up to the plate and providing jobs for the victims of modern slavery but, by adopting this programme, they are also highlighting the existence of this evil crime amongst their staff, suppliers and customers,” he said.
“We think of slavery as something from the history books but it is happening in towns, cities and even rural areas across the UK at this very moment.
“Having heard at first hand the harrowing stories of people who have been caught up in this heinous crime, I am proud that we are working to help eliminate it and that so many other businesses are joining us in providing job opportunities.”
Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said: “Modern slavery is a despicable crime affecting the most vulnerable people in our society, who are targeted by ruthless predatory criminals.
“We are leading the world in the fight against it through the Modern Slavery Act and our advanced law enforcement response, but businesses have a vital role to play, especially when it comes to eradicating this crime in their supply chains.”