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How to research modern slavery better: partnerships between academics and NGOs

Recording of the event from 18 July on building equitable partnerships between academics and NGOs in modern slavery research.

Published: 3rd August 2022

From the inception of the Modern Slavery PEC, we’ve worked to change the ways we fund and do research on modern slavery.

There is a whole range of issues that can improve research on modern slavery, from making sure that evidence produced by it can influence laws, policies and practices on modern slavery, to meaningfully include people with lived experience of modern slavery, to improving diversity within the modern slavery research community, to building effective research partnerships between academics and non-academics, and many others.

These issues are all quite new in the modern slavery research and aren’t as widely embedded as everyone would like, and we’ve been getting feedback from all sorts of quarters that there’s a need to bring everyone together so that we can talk to each other, learn from each other and find ways of doing research better.

This is why we started a new series of events, with the aim of building capacity across the whole sector – including ourselves, and learning what works. We’re planning to bring people together and discuss issues such as meaningful inclusions of people with lived experience in research, building research skills capacity of NGOs, or building capacity of research community in impacting policy.

The first event we organised in this series was on building partnerships between academics and NGOs in modern slavery research on 18 July 2022. This podcast is a recording of that event.

Collaboration of academics and NGOs has been the most common type of partnership in the research we’ve funded so far.

It isn’t easy to set up and operate these kinds of research partnerships. There are many challenges that they have to overcome, such as the potential power imbalance between partners, the way different organisations work, having different systems in place, different financial operations etc.

For the workshop, we invited speakers from two projects funded by the Modern Slavery PEC to reflect on their experiences working in these kinds of partnerships and shared our own lessons we learned from our funded projects so far.

The speakers were: Dr Liz Such (lead researcher of our project assessing modern slavery prevention initiatives in the UK, Debbie Ariyo (Chief Executive of AFRUCA & Chair of the UK BME Anti-Slavery Network), Robin Brierley (Executive Director of the West Midlands Anti Slavery Network) and Lauren Saunders (Head of Policy & Research, Unseen), as well Owain Johnstone, Prof Alex Balch and Izzy Templer from the Modern Slavery PEC side.