The Wilberforce Institute is based in Oriel Chambers, in the heart of Hull's historic Old Town, and aims to follow in the footsteps of the city's most famous son, William Wilberforce, who was born next door.
Transforming the three-storey property, designed by the renowned Victorian architect William Botterill, into a research institute was a major undertaking between the University and the local city council, with financial help from Yorkshire Forward, the European Regional Development Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
We opened our doors in 2006, ahead of the bicentenary of the Slave Trade Abolition Act 1807, for which Wilberforce had fought so hard.
But despite the act, and the later Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, approved in the year of Wilberforce's death, the fight to eradicate slavery remains as relevant as ever.
The Wilberforce Institute is a unique centre of research into historical slavery and leads the fight against contemporary exploitation, winning the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2016. Our work is led by director, Professor John Oldfield, working closely with institute staff and research associates.
We work with governments, NGOs, communities, businesses and other organisations to inform policy and practice – locally, nationally and internationally – in our ongoing work to raise awareness of slavery and to root it out wherever it appears.
In the words of William Wilberforce himself, ‘you may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know’.