WISE slave statue hand

University of Hull to help tackle slavery in Sierra Leone

Researchers at the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute are helping to tackle slavery in Sierra Leone – by utilising the power of culture.

The team will implement and develop arts initiatives in Hull’s twin city, Freetown, to help raise awareness of the triggers that can lead to people becoming trapped in modern-day slavery. Original and innovative arts projects will be established in a variety of formats – including performances, storytelling and exhibitions – and will be targeted across a range of ages.

Professor John Oldfield, Director of the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull, explained: “It is estimated that there are at least 40million people trapped in slavery across the world today. Contemporary slavery is a huge and complex problem requiring a multi-faceted approach; with this project we are looking at potential ways slavery could be prevented.

“By educating citizens to the potential danger points that could lead to them becoming enslaved it is hoped that the project will help people avoid becoming trapped in the first place. We also hope that help younger audiences become empowered to go on to shape the future of their communities.”

“By educating citizens to the potential danger points that could lead to them becoming enslaved it is hoped that the project will help people avoid becoming trapped in the first place." Professor John Oldfield, Director of the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation

The University of Hull is working in collaboration with the Universities of Liverpool and Nottingham on the project – with the latter two implementing initiatives within their twin cities in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo, respectively. All three countries are on the UN’s poverty risk register. The project begins this month and will run for four years. 

The Wilberforce Institute have well established links with Sierra Leone and will be working closely with the country’s Monuments and Relics Commission. Among other initiatives the team will work with pupils and schools to develop their own projects on a number of heritage sites and an education programme focussing on child trafficking that will create learning resources schools and cultural partners. 

Projects will be piloted and evaluated to create a working model before commissioning further arts-based community projects through a formal tendering process with NGOs.

The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through the Global Challenges Research fund which supports cutting-edge research to address complex global issues faced by developing countries and helps to ensure the UK takes a leading role in global development.

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