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Anti-Slavery Day: a vital opportunity to reflect

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull, has already seen how students, academics and professional staff are supporting the University’s mission to create a fairer future for everyone. But there is still much more to do.

The University of Hull has a proud history of promoting social justice, both in our own neighbouring communities and globally. Since joining the University in September, I’ve had the chance to see this work in action and to learn about the work of our fantastic students, academics and professional staff who are supporting our mission to create a fairer future for everyone.

Anti-Slavery Day presents a vital opportunity to reflect on the important work that has taken place to eradicate slavery in all its forms, but also on how much more there is to do. I have been so impressed by the work of the University’s Wilberforce Institute, which is continuing to produce new research – most recently around the missed opportunities to protect people in the UK from exploitation through modern slavery for example – which is helping to develop our understanding of these issues, allowing us to tackle slavery more robustly and effectively.

Last week, the Institute’s newly launched Justice Hub hosted its first modern slavery conference, which included some truly remarkable speakers, including University of Hull academics Professor Simon Green and Dr Nicola O’Leary, as well as Manchester Police’s DC Colin Ward, Essex Police’s Richard Eastwood, Major Kathy Betteridge from the Salvation Army and Jen Nghishitende, who is conducting her doctoral research at the University.

Recently, the University has also had the opportunity to partner with the Hull Afro Caribbean Association and Hull Museums to showcase a photography exhibition at the Streetlife Museum, depicting wartime photography by Corporal Fred Birden. The exhibits have been selected and reinterpreted by local members of the Hull Afro Caribbean Association who were born, lived and/or worked in West Africa, with input from Dr Nicholas Evans who helped organise the exhibition. I would really encourage anyone who has the time to do so to visit this fantastic exhibition.

Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of my first seven weeks at the University has been the opportunity to speak with those on campus and in the wider community who are dedicated to tackling issues around social injustice and sustainability. The University is acting with one voice on these issues, and I am so pleased that I can be part of this work.

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