Hull Homeless Community Project is now a partner of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership. Relatively in its infancy, 60 agencies have joined together to fight slavery and trafficking across the Humber region.

What is modern slavery?

Many people think that slavery is something of the past. Something that Hull’s own MP William Wilberforce helped to abolish with the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. Although this was a great achievement, it didn’t stop slavery from continuing and changing its form.

‘Slavery’ is an umbrella term. It covers all activities involved when one person holds another person in compelled service. If someone is forced to work through mental or physical threat, bought and sold as property, owned or controlled by an employer, or physically constrained with restrictions placed on their freedom, they are a slave.

How do we fit in?

Modern slavery is intrinsically linked with homelessness. The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner has identified that slave masters prey on vulnerable people who are affected by homelessness. He highlighted that those who are homeless are exposed to rogue employers offering work and accommodation, only to be left exploited in appalling conditions.

Desperate people will get promised work and a better life in this country. But when they arrive, they receive very low to no income, substandard accommodation (if any), and are effectively enslaved. Slave masters will often make psychological and physical threats to their family or loved ones to force them to stay. Other slaves might not have anyone to turn to, and so put up with their situation. A lot of the time, the modern slaves don’t fully understand what has happened to them. It’s a system of abuse that we need to stop.

The issue of modern slavery is particularly prevalent in the Humber region. Hull is a port city and we have a lot of commerce and trade; there are many routes and avenues that slaves can be brought through. Meanwhile, we’re geographically quite out of the way, so it’s easy for people to slip through the net. On top of all this, our region is traditionally impoverished. The living wage is low and there is a high percentage of poverty. The more desperate people there are, the more people there are out there waiting to take advantage.

How can you help?

Our first task is to identify those who need our support and we can do this with your help. If you see something suspicious, please contact the police via the 101 phone number or email publicprotectionhull@humberside.pnn.police.uk. If you’re in the East Riding, North Lincolnshire or North East Lincolnshire area, please consult the Humber Modern Slavery website for the correct contact details.

Spotting the signs of modern slavery can be difficult, but it’s important to report anything that plays on your mind. Andrew Smith, HHCP Founder, has a few tips for looking out for modern slaves:

“Their physical appearance may be unkempt, they may not have washed and their clothes might be in a poor state. It could be someone who looks particularly unhealthy or lost. Listen to the conversations taking place. If anything jumps out or doesn’t seem right, report it.”

Find out more

The Humber Modern Slavery Partnership is holding an event on Wednesday 24 May at The Lawns in Cottingham. There will be several speakers talking about what the police are currently doing to tackle the issue, as well as a speech from Ashiana, a survivor. If you’d like to reserve a place, please email humberantislave@gmail.com