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His suffering. Our ignorance.
Let’s get to work.

Our research

“Wilberforce ended slavery in Britain 200 years ago.” Wrong. “All victims of human trafficking become sex workers.” Wrong. “It doesn't happen here – it’s a developing world thing”. Wrong. And the wrongest, most gut-wrenching thing of all is that no-one’s doing enough to stop it. Because they don’t know enough about it. That’s where we come in.

The latest statistics reveal that

Global-Trapped Global-Scale Global-Reporting

*The Home Office.
**Businesses with a turnover of £36 million or above – ‘UK Modern Slavery Act: Analysis of Early Company Statements’.

But modern-day slavery is only a symptom of the problem, not the cause. Ongoing wars and economic inequality have brought about the biggest displacement of people since the Second World War. And that's being exploited for profit – because of ignorance. Our ignorance of the situation; and people's naivety about the routes that lead to a life of slavery. We can do something about that, through the power of knowledge. The power of education.

Of course, in this breathless world of the 21st century, more people want more things, more quickly. So the way that the world's products and services are manufactured and supplied needs to pay more than lip service to ethical and environmental issues. Our experts are revolutionising the way that goods and people are moved around the world, and working to tackle the horrors of war and forced labour.

We team up with governments and agencies worldwide - winning major research grants, helping to draft new laws and trying to make the world a better place. For the many, not just the few.

Here’s what we’re working on now. If you think you can help, we’d love to hear from you.

Virtual Wilberforce

Resurrecting a 19th-century crusader with 21st-century technology. Because some motion-captured CGI heroes have a mission that’s too big for a Marvel movie.


Exposing the barriers to reporting sexual abuse in British South Asian communities – and helping victims find their voice.


Eradication of Slavery

Hidden in Plain sight2

Modern slavery: it's Hidden in Plain Sight

We created a highly visual stunt in the centre of Hull to raise awareness the shocking extent of modern slavery in Britain.

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Wilberforce World Freedom Summit

Taking a stand at the Freedom Summit

The University’s fight against modern slavery was the focus as some of the world’s leading anti-slavery campaigners gathered in Hull.

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Royal recognition for anti-slavery work

The outstanding work of the Wilberforce Institute was rewarded with the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015.

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Connecting Goods and People


Life-saving 'last mile' tech for troops

When a challenge was laid down to help reduce the risk to life for soldiers on the front line, we stepped up with our pioneering technology.

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Building sustainable supply chains

We’re developing technology and sharing our logistics expertise to open up new viable routes for cargo owners.

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Brexit threat to UK lobsters

Our researchers are carrying out a study which aims to minimise the threat posed by Brexit to East Yorkshire's thriving lobster industry.

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Ethical Supply Chains

Toolkit for Business 1 - 600x380

Helping businesses combat slavery

We’re helping businesses, including one of Britain’s largest supermarkets, to identify and eradicate potential slavery in their supply chains.

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The shape of things to come?

We’re at the forefront of the battle against waste in a vital €3.8 million research project, aiming to create a ‘circular economy’.

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World Economic Forum chooses Hull

We’re proud to be the exclusive academic partner of the World Economic Forum for a study into supply chain innovation.

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