Modern slavery of children & young people to be tackled through research Image supplied by University of Bedfordshire

The University of Bedfordshire and charity ECPAT UK (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking) are to be research partners, spear-headed by Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC).

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the research is one of five new projects from Modern Slavery PEC.

These five projects will investigate survivors’ mental wellbeing, explore and define long term outcomes for adults and children affected by modern slavery, and will develop support for British nationals.

Survivors of modern slavery will play a crucial part in these innovative research projects, which aim to improve key areas of the current support system for people affected by modern slavery in the UK.

By involving people with lived experiences of modern slavery, these projects will put survivor voice and presence at the forefront, resulting in robust academic research.

Dr Patricia Hynes, reader in forced migration with the University of Bedfordshire’s School of Applied Social Sciences, will be the Principal Investigator for the project, titled ‘Stable Futures: Improving Participation, Life Chances and Outcomes for Children and Young People following Human Trafficking and/or ‘Modern Slavery’.

She said:

“It is only by working together with young people who have experienced human trafficking or exploitation that we can hope to understand what is important for their pathways towards positive outcomes.

“If we listen carefully, we might find solutions that align with the UK’s global commitments.”

The partnership will work with young people to identify their experiences and priorities, using arts and multi-media-based approaches to co-create projects on the themes of protection, recovery, inclusion, and empowerment.

Devised alongside young people, the team will develop an outcomes framework to identify what short, medium or long-term positive outcomes might look like in the UK context.

Patricia Durr, ceo of ECPAT UK, said:

“Child victims of trafficking have the same rights as all children to positive outcomes for health and wellbeing, being safe, learning and having fun, participating and contributing; but face many barriers and are all too often invisible.

“We are excited that this project puts child victims at the centre of what is most important to their protection and care and any prevention and recovery approaches.

“This is the starting point for all of our work at ECPAT UK and must be the driver for positive change for children and young people.

“We owe them no less.”

Other projects from researchers and experts in their field from the Universities of Birmingham, Hull, Nottingham, Stirling, St Mary’s, Kings College, East London and London School of Economics have also been selected by the Modern Slavery PEC.

The Modern Slavery PEC project led by the University of Bedfordshire is due to be completed by August 2022.