Sunday, 27 April 2014

27th April update: Wilberforce - One of Many

This week, we have continued to network and make connections with interested individuals who are keen to be a part of this campaign. We are encouraged by those well wishers who see education as a means of avoiding repetition of past mistakes and enlightening people on the reasons for the disbursement of different nationalities around the world.

We hope soon to be closer to answering the often asked question “how much will it cost to light the monument?” The feasibility study is continuing in the background and we hope to have a report back soon.

For this week’s image we have created a ‘Wordle’ using the names of some prominent abolitionists. It is important to remember that William Wilberforce was just one of many people trying to right the wrongs of slavery.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Background to the draft Modern Slavery Bill

This week has seen widened coverage of the draft Modern Slavery Bill that we referenced a few months ago in our 8th December update. Interested parties are keen to ensure that it is fit for purpose. The general consensus is that there still need to be some amendments made to the draft to ensure that the four ‘p’s’ of protection, prevention, prosecution and punishment are covered, and that the victims involved are sufficiently protected.

To provide some background to this issue, on 22nd October Fiona Mactaggart MP made a request to the Backbench Business committee for a debate on modern day slavery (supported by Frank Field MP). The debate then took place on 5th December prior to Theresa May’s release of a White Paper detailing the plan for the Modern Slavery Bill on 16th December.

This debate transcended party politics and provided evidence of exploitation countrywide. Some of the issues brought forward included stiffer penalties for traffickers, better victim support and seizing of assets to compensate victims and fund investigations.

It was suggested that for this Bill to work there needs to be a better infrastructure in place, including a Commissioner (already proposed), EU enforcement and a system to make organisations accountable.

In 2012, according to Diana Johnson MP, 2,200 people were trafficked into the UK but some were trafficked out. Michael Connarty MP and Sir John Randall MP relayed incidences of people being trafficked, for example to Sweden within the construction industry and to Italy and France for prostitution. Whilst it is true that police, social workers, health workers and immigration staff must be vigilant, so must we all.

Andrew Selous MP reported that Bedford Borough Council addressed public awareness through prompt cards handed out around the area asking the question “Is the person you are with a victim of Modern Slavery?”

It gives a few questions for people to consider:

  • Do they know their home/work address?
  • Is there expression of fear, distrust or anxiety?
  • Are their individual or group movements restricted by others?
  • Do they have limited contact with family and/or friends?
  • Is money deducted from their salary for food and/or accommodation?
  • Are their passports/documents held by someone else?

It then prompts those that are concerned to contact the police. There is also information about local charities and safeguarding teams. He suggests that this is a good approach to raising awareness for councils nationwide.

Image credit:

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The need for context in historical events

Marble Hill House in Twickenham (picture from the English Heritage website)

Too often history is taught as isolated events. This may be through necessity but it often leaves subjects floundering and out of context. How many of us realise, for example, that the slave trade dragged on in the background whilst we were told about the industrial revolution, the French revolution, The Boston Tea Party, The American War of Independence, Cook’s explorations and other events, all as discrete events as though nothing else was happening in the world at that time?

We enjoy the writings of authors such as Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Robert Burns, William Wordsworth and William Blake, and music by composers such as Mozart and Beethoven, yet we’re often oblivious to the times that they lived in. Our admiration of great country houses is for the lovely proportions and the aesthetics of the Georgian facade and many forget that both the exterior and interior opulence of such places were the result of some uglier truth.

Subjects in this vein of interest are being explored by University College London in two projects under the umbrella The Legacies of British Slave-ownership. The project is interested in investigating slave-owners to understand how slavery shaped British history, summarising the subject on their website:

“Colonial slavery shaped modern Britain and we all still live with its legacies. The slave-owners were one very important means by which the fruits of slavery were transmitted to metropolitan Britain.”

The UCL database allows you to see the links to slavery under different headings and we will add more links under our ‘About Slavery’ tab.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Campaign update - 6th April

This week, we have had discussions with Wilberforce House and the University of Hull. We met the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Engagement at the university who has endorsed the campaign and will support us. This is particularly important to us as education plays a key role in the campaign and together with WISE, the university has a worldwide reputation.

This week has seen some progress towards establishing a cost for illuminating the monument. A feasibility study is now underway and the outcome of this will be in a few weeks time. Once the initial ideas have been outlined, we will consult widely to gain as many views as possible. This is a community project that will need you, the public, to pull together so make your goodwill count and donate if you can.

We’re very grateful to the management at The Deep this week who have made a prize contribution to our future fundraising efforts.

Anti-Slavery International have sent us some useful material which we can use for the educational side of the campaign so our thanks go to them for sending this through - the links to some of their online resources are in About Slavery.

Finally, in focusing on the educational aspect of slavery as well as the fundraising side of things, we will now be including posts to inform, as well as providing updates on lighting the monument. The first of these will be posted shortly. Please see the About Slavery tab for other general links.

The above image of Princes Dock was found on