We attended the Wilberforce World Freedom Summit on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 September as a partner of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership (HMSP). The inspirational two-day event, hosted at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE), involved several guest speakers from the private and public sector. The summit focused on the topic of modern day slavery and ways in which we can prevent it.

Homelessness is just one of the many issues connected with modern day slavery. This year, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner identified that slave masters prey on vulnerable people who are affected by homelessness. It was highlighted in a report that homeless individuals are exposed to rogue employers, who will frequently offer work opportunities, with promises of accommodation. Of course, these people soon find themselves exploited and living in appalling conditions. On top of this, it has been found that masters will make psychological and physical threats to their family or loved ones to force them to stay. It’s a system of abuse and one that is growing.

The modern slavery debate is particularly relevant to the Humber region. For centuries, we have been a port city, which has allowed slaves to be smuggled into the country. Meanwhile, the region is one of high deprivation compared to the rest of the country; the living wage is low and there is a large number of people living in poverty. Unfortunately, the more desperate people there are, the more chances there are for slave masters to take advantage.

WISE is one of the world’s leading research centres that is actively working towards the end of labour exploitation and slavery, so it was a really great experience to visit the venue seeing it transformed in to this huge conference. We got to hear several exhilarating speeches, which demonstrated the hard work that private and public organisations are carrying out in order to fight this scary problem.

Many companies, such as Arco, are leading the way and cutting out slavery from their supply chains. Others are very keen to discover more and take action against this global issue. The event was deeply informative. Did you know that in 2016, there were an estimated 40.3 million people trapped in slavery across the world. Unbelievably, 65% of those are used in forced labour for private sector companies. In the UK alone, there are currently over 13,000 victims of slavery.

Slavery is certainly not something that ended with the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. It is a current issue and needs to be stopped immediately. If you would like to know more about the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership, please visit their website www.humberantislave.com

Meanwhile, if you would like to get involved with HHCP, please email us at info@hullhomless.co.uk