Manager of the Justice Hub and Coordinator of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership
The ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery Justice Hub is a Wilberforce Institute and University of Hull Alumni funded project that seeks to combat modern slavery by using research and knowledge exchange to engage and empower people to create a culture of change for good. Launched in October 2021 with my appointment as project manager Its mission is to use knowledge exchange, education and research to raise awareness of, and compliance with, the Modern Slavery Act 2015, ensuring it is better understood and enforced by those who have a statutory, legal or moral duty under its provisions. On Monday 28th March we published a special edition of the Wilberforce Institute Modern Slavery Newsletter to mark the anniversary of the Modern Slavery Act which became law on 26th March 2015. You can view the newsletter online here: https://universityofhullec.newsweaver.com/eo4xlasxr1/16j2gri0ubh
Our first six months
Initial work started immediately on formulating a plan to develop our online e-learning CPD modules on key provisions of the Act that will be available to a range of statutory and non-statutory stakeholders. Working with Lampada we have made good progress in putting together a template of the first three modules which comprise an introductory module, a legal enforcement module and a transparency in supply chains module. We have applied for £50,000 HEIF funding to pay for these first three modules and associated costs. Content for these modules has been written and we are commencing the build stage with a view for the first module to be ready by June to showcase at our next big event in Birmingham on 30th June 2022, and will offer a deeper insight into slavery and trafficking responses for law professionals and social care staff. The event will include a plenary session on victimology, a CPD session with guest DC Colin Ward from the Manchester Police, Op Challenger task force, then finish with an expert panel that will discuss with our audience how we connect stakeholders to improve responses and how victims navigate the criminal justice system.
On the 16th of October we held our very first A21 walk for freedom in partnership with the Freedom Festival in Hull. The A21 walk for freedom is a global movement of peaceful campaign walks to highlight slavery and engage the public. We used this event as a public launch of the Justice Hub in Hull. The event was well attended by over 30 staff, students and members of the public who walked a pre-planned route around famous Hull landmarks talking to the public about the issue of slavery today (www.A21.org).
Our second opportunity to launch the Justice Hub came internally at the University’s knowledge exchange conference in November. Here we used the stage to introduce the Hub to our colleagues and discuss the importance of using knowledge exchange to improve responses to modern slavery and the application of the law that empowers and supports victims. We also used this opportunity to highlight the benefits of connectedness and people power in fighting for social justice. From this conference we have made multiple valuable connections within the University which has resulted in us being able to deliver a significant amount of training to many disciplines.
In our first six months we have delivered sessions on the Modern Slavery Act, globalisation and ethical trading, criminal exploitation, and social justice to
• Child nursing students
• Mental health nursing students
• Business and law students
• English students
• Education students
External to the University we have been working closely with Hull City Council on implementing a new pathway and policy for their housing department and specific training on the Act, how it applies in practice, and how to refer potential victims into the National Referral Mechanism [NRM]. Staying with Hull City Council, we are an integral part of their response to child criminal exploitation and a key panel member of their NRM child devolved decision-making panel as an expert advisor and decision maker. As part of this work, we have delivered dedicated training to child social care workers, youth justice workers and health care workers on referring and supporting child victims. Since October we have collaborated to train over 300 Hull City Council professionals. The current child devolved NRM decision-making pilot in Hull has been extended for another 12 months by the Home Office which is welcome news for professionals working to safeguard young people. As part of this extension Hull City Council has been given a budget for further training and we have been approached to help deliver this. Finally, as well as Hull City Council and University students, we have delivered a wide array of training and workshops to community groups, faith groups, youth justice and Crown Prosecution Services staff, and taken part in a national safeguarding week to deliver sessions to members of the public.
Aside from our direct training and CPD efforts we are also keen to utilise different methods of media to communicate modern slavery knowledge and grow/diversify our audiences. As such we have just aired the first of a new 7-part podcast series that takes a look at key provisions of the Modern Slavery Act. This first podcast introduces the Wilberforce Institute and the Justice Hub, gives an overview of the Act and an outline of the provisions we will be covering in subsequent episodes. You can listen to our first podcast here: https://youtu.be/wJ8Rlue6ck4
In May we will be recording a very special podcast interview on tackling difficult subjects with children with Wilberforce MA alumnus Channon Oyeniran, author of The Time Travel Adventures of Ara. In this her debut book, Channon brings Black History to life in a magical way. What starts as a simple journey turns into an extraordinary one through a series of mysterious events that finds Ara transported over a century back in time. What follows is a thrilling adventure and a mission to set enslaved people free (https://adventuresofara.com/).
In addition, we have recently become a member of the UK Modern Slavery Training and Development Group. This national group comprises leading anti-slavery sector organisations who come together to work on identifying national gaps in training and brings specialist knowledge together to deliver solutions. I believe this to be a positive move for the Justice Hub that will allow us to influence UK training needs and the use of specialist knowledge to impact practice through legislation and policy.
Finally, I am extremely pleased to be able to say that in our first 6 months of operation we have trained a total of 682 people internal and external to the University. I hope you will agree this is a fantastic way to kick off this wonderful project. It reinforces the appetite we know exists among audiences and stakeholders to improve their knowledge so they may provide better services and create lasting social change.