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  • Writer's picturePaul Browning

International Pupil Council Conference - Hull/Freetown History & Modern Slavery

All schools were welcomed to this meeting at the Basil Reckitt Lecture Theatre at Hull University and our thanks were offered to our host, Dr Nick Evans and our other guest speaker, Andrew Smith

Nick Evans spoke with our councillors about the links between Hull and Freetown, including key events and people . Nick explained why the Freetown Society has been so important for the strong links between the two cities. Freetown week is in the third week of October. Thomas Peters (1738-1792) is now regarded as the ‘Nelson Mandela of Sierra Leone’. John Clarkson (1764-1828) was a key figure at the same time, being an abolitionist and a founder of Freetown. Both men didn’t particularly get on with each other. Clarkson is remembered more, especially as he was the first governor of the settlement than Thomas Peters but this is rather unfair. He is best known for his influence in settling Canadian Black Slaves in Sierra Leone. At the time, the British Empire occupied a quarter of the world. Other key figures were Thomas Perronet-Thompson (1783-1869), who was a British Parliamentarian, a governor of Sierra Leone between 1808 & 1810 and a radical reformer. He lived in a castle in Cottingham of which the only remaining building is the tower at the top of Castle Hill Hospital. Captain Charles Hotham (1806-1855)was another important person who set people free from slavery. Freetown became known as one of the multicultural cities in the world. Margaret Moxon Kissling (1808-1891) from Sculcoates in Hull was an extremely important person, who taught missionary schools in Sierra Leone. A road between Hull Paragon Station and St Stephen’s Shopping Centre is called ‘Margaret Moxon Way’ in her honour. Dr Evans told the IPC that the oldest newspapers from Freetown are in the Hull History Centre as many in Freetown were lost during the civil war. A golden model of the ship called the ‘Bounty’ is being erected on the top of the tower at Hull Guild Hall soon, to represent the slave ships. On 23rd August, there is a Slavery Rememberance Parade in the Museums Quarter of Hull and, during the October Black History Month, there is going to be an exhibition of photographs taken in Freetown. This will be in the Streetlife Museum.

Andrew Smith is the Coordinator of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership and the Manager of ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery Justice Hub. The Humber is the region encompassing Hull, the East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. There are a staggering 21-45 million people in slavery around the world today, which is more than the number of slaves at the time of William Wilberforce. In the UK, there are 13,000 people in slavery although the actual number may be more than this. The legal definition of slavery includes ownership over a person. Andrew explained that he was going to tell us about two types of slavery - Forced Labour (where people are forced to work for others) and Domestic Servitude. The latter includes people who live with a family and are forced to be a servant without pay or good conditions, with no option to leave. There are a small number of people in Hull who are in this predicament but the number is small compared with other large cities. People are usually in these situations because they are desperate - they may have lost their jobs, they have no food or home and have been tricked into being exploited. The nationality in the UK which is the most exploited in slavery is the British. Andrew led a discussion with our IPC reps about modern slavery. Like Dr Evans, he was very impressed with the knowledge and questions from our young people. Andrew encouraged everyone to support the anti-slavery movement, to help with lobbying.

Our most profound thanks go to Nick and Andrew for two brilliant sessions. They were really interesting and thought-provoking.

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