The Launch of our ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery

On Thursday 21 October 2021, The Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull launched its ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery with an incredible line up of speakers who have been key in the fight so far. We were delighted to be joined at The Temple Church in London by those who have been key in revealing how this global scourge works, establishing the Modern Slavery Act in the UK, and prosecuting the first cases in the UK. Together we discussed the need for collaborative working and new tools to tackle this injustice, and how our project will work in that context.

Below, you can watch the video of our speakers, read an event report written by Peter Wallace, the Development Office’s Prospect Development Manager at the University of Hull, and find out how you can get involved or help.


VIDEO: Launch of our ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery


How you can help

Thanks to the generosity of our University of Hull staff, students alumni and friends, we have been able to found our Justice Hub as a valuable tool in the fight against modern slavery. With your support we can take this to the next level and secure the project for the near future, thereby establishing it as a place where individuals and organisations can come together to learn,  exchange knowledge and co-ordinate their efforts to combat modern slavery.

Make a donation using our online form >>

Email us to arrange a conversation with one of our fundraisers about how your donation can make a huge difference >>


Are you or your organisation interested in partnering with us?

If you or your organisation would like to work with the Wilberforce Institute and the Justice Hub, then there are many ways we can support one another going forward. You can find out more about the work of the Wilberforce Institute, both historic and ongoing, and get in touch with us to discuss potential collaborations.

Find out more about the project, the Wilberforce Institute and 
how you can work with us >>

Find out how to get in touch to work with us >>


Event Report and Photo Gallery

The University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute launched its ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery at The Temple Church in London on 21 October in front of alumni and those interested and involved in ending the scourge of modern slavery, in all its manifestations. 

Elizabeth McGrath QC (Law, 1982) opened the event and spoke of her pride, as a Hull graduate, to be supporting the work of the new Justice Hub which will equip professionals with the tools they need to apply and enforce the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and support the victims. She introduced Kevin Bales CMG FRSA, Professor of Contemporary Slavery and Research Director of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, as the first speaker.

Professor Bales put the fight against slavery into its historic context and noted that the establishment of the Wilberforce Institute had brought forward a rebirth of anti-slavery scholarship, dedicated to the idea that all people are born to be free, and slavery cannot be allowed to stand anywhere. He said that the goal now was to end slavery – everywhere. Child-enforced marriage, child soldiers, sexual exploitation, and when people are treated as things or property without humanity, are all examples of modern slavery. He welcomed the launch of the Justice Hub as one more entity working towards the goal; helping the movement to move forward.

Professor Trevor Burnard, Director of the Wilberforce Institute since January 2020, revealed he had come to Hull because of the outstanding international reputation of the Institute. He said the ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery had re-encapsulated the credo of the Institute: learning from the past, in order to apply lessons in the present, to change society for the better in the future. Professor Burnard acknowledged the help of alumni in getting the project to this stage. He introduced the next speaker, Caroline Haughey OBE QC, a distinguished barrister with a particular interest in human trafficking and modern slavery, and heavily involved in the creation of the Modern Slavery Act.

Caroline Haughey said it was a privilege to be there, and pointed out that the brains and “genius” behind the 2015 Act was Fiona Hill. The Act has given us, she declared, the chance to return dignity to those oppressed by slavery. Currently it is being used to disrupt County Lines. She spoke of the importance of academics working in this area and how those working with the law needed researchers, thinkers and educators to help people like her. The Hub, in her view, had the task of making law makers understand what was happening in the real world. 

Andrew Smith, Manager of the ACTion Justice Hub, introduced himself by saying he was not an academic – but a practitioner. He had founded a homeless charity and had worked with some of the most vulnerable, marginalised people in the Hull area. Within that work he had become aware of modern slavery. His focus at the Institute was to help those people around the world who were being exploited, with an aspiration to make a real difference.

Professor Nick Hardwick CBE (English, 1979) spoke of the alumni who had got involved with the work of the Institute, funding the Wiseman Khuzwayo Scholarship, and who were backing the Justice Hub. Alumni had already given to the project, but more funds were urgently needed, and so he asked those present to consider donating. As well as money, he hoped that all those present would support the Institute in any way they could.

Professor Burnard invited Fiona Hill CBE, who worked as a Chief of Staff for the former Prime Minister, Theresa May, to give the vote of thanks to the speakers. She spoke of what she had learned of modern slavery from Professor Bales and Caroline Haughey, and the “passion” of Andrew Smith, who she said would be “absolutely brilliant” in the job. Ms Hill thanked Nick Hardwick for the ask, saying she would consider giving, and Professor Burnard for the historical background he provided. She gave thanks too for the work done by her friend Mike Craven (History, 1980).

The evening was a tremendous success, and provided a fantastic launch to ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery.

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