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Modern Slavery PEC’s five new calls for research proposals

Four responsive research calls announced and open call for research pre-announced.

Published: 30th September 2021

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC) has today issued four calls for responsive research proposals, as well as pre-announcing an open call for research proposals.

The Centre, created by the investment of public funding to enhance understanding of modern slavery and transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to address it, commissions high quality research, focused on policy impact . The PEC is funded and supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Today the Modern Slavery PEC announced four calls for responsive research proposals, three of them focused on survivor support and recovery and one on modern slavery in global supply chains. It also pre-announced an open call for research proposals on the links between modern slavery in the UK and wider laws and policies, which is due to open formally in October.

The four responsive research calls are part of the Modern Slavery PEC responsive research mechanism that has been created to fund responsive and agile research projects. Responsive research is commissioned and led directly by the PEC, but is funded and actively supported by AHRC. The open call for research, run in close collaboration with AHRC, invites bigger and longer term-projects, with a two stage process in place to assess the proposals.

Modern Slavery PEC’s Director of Research Prof Alex Balch said: “We are seeking to support innovative and cutting-edge research addressing the most pressing evidence gaps through our responsive research calls, with survivor support and supply chains being important areas of interest.

“With the open call for research, we want to look at wider structures and systems often closely connected with the factors behind modern slavery, limiting people’s choices and making them vulnerable to exploitation. We’re looking for projects that have potential to change the thinking behind the design of laws and policies that impact on modern slavery.”

Responsive research calls

All four responsive research calls open today and close in November (check each call for its closing date). The applications are accepted through online forms (separate form for each call), linked from the individual calls’ webpages.

1. Responsive research call: evaluating the provision of distributed technology to adults with lived experience of modern slavery.

The aim of this research project will be to evaluate the provision of distributed technology to adults with lived experience of modern slavery accessing support services through the UK’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and the related impact on well-being and recovery, as well as on safeguarding.

Although not part of the standard support package, during the Covid-19 pandemic some subcontracted support providers have distributed devices to service users, including phones, smartphones, computers and associated data packages. Although initial reports have been positive, there hasn’t been comprehensive research on the impact of distributed technology on people’s wellbeing, the potential safety risks and the longer-term implications of distributed technology for how support services are delivered.

2. Responsive call for research: experiences of accessing legal advice for people with lived experience of modern slavery, particularly on recovery and outcomes.

The aim of this research project will be to assess the experiences of accessing legal advice for people with lived experience of modern slavery throughout the UK, particularly on their recovery and outcomes. The project should identify both barriers to accessing legal advice and any promising practice which could improve outcomes for people with lived experience.

It should assess the scale of people with lived experience of modern slavery being unable to access legal advice and barriers preventing them from it. It should also assess the impact of inability to access adequate and timely legal advice by people with lived experience on NRM decisions, compensation claims and immigration or asylum claim outcomes, as well as its impact on the recovery and well-being.

3. Responsive call for research: Improving the identification of adults with lived experience of modern slavery in the UK

The aim of this research project will be to identify promising practice to improve the identification of adults with lived experience of modern slavery in the UK and the quality of referrals into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). It should assess the training for First Responders and provide recommendations for how they can effectively identify people who have experienced modern slavery. It should also explore why some adults with lived experience of modern slavery decide not to give consent to enter the NRM, explore patterns according to the characteristics of individuals; exploitation type, organisation of First Responder or location, and explore why the number of Duty to Notify referrals is increasing.

4. Responsive call for research: establishing visibility and influence over long and complex supply chains.

The aim of this research call is to further explore how businesses can establish and increase their visibility and influence over (particularly) the lower tiers of long and complex supply chains, in order to prevent or mitigate the risk of modern slavery. The research findings should support the development of practical guidance for businesses wishing to take more effective action to address modern slavery.

The objectives of this research include conceptualising the range of understandings of what constitutes effective supply chain governance in relation to modern slavery risks, mapping schematically current business approaches and practices and collecting evidence as to the relative effectiveness of those approaches.

Link: Read full details and apply online.

Pre-announced: open call for research on the links between modern slavery in the UK and wider laws and policies.

The open call for research for the Modern Slavery PEC is an opportunity to generate new evidence to significantly advance efforts to address modern slavery. The goal of the call is to support a set of individual but connected innovative research projects that together will drive forward understanding of the way wider legal and policy frameworks are implicated in modern slavery, and support strategic thinking in the (re)design of policies to better safeguard against modern slavery and reduce modern slavery risks.

The Modern Slavery PEC is seeking research that provides new evidence about the role that wider legal and policy frameworks play in addressing modern slavery in the UK. These wider legal and policy frameworks include areas such as immigration and asylum, labour market regulation, sex work, safeguarding in health and social protection, criminal justice (e.g. drug policies) and international development and foreign policy.

The submission process for this call will be divided into two stages, with the first involving submitting expressions of interest through an online form linked from the Modern Slavery PEC website, and the second stage involving a full applications submitted through the AHRC Je-S system.

The online form for the expressions of interest for this call will formally open in October.

Who is eligible for all calls

All projects must be led by a UK higher education institution or approved research organisation eligible to receive UKRI funding, and projects must be carried out in collaboration with at least one UK based non-academic partner. In accordance with the Modern Slavery PEC’s strategic objective of facilitating collaboration, successful teams will also work in collaboration with the Modern Slavery PEC throughout the project to ensure alignment with our objectives and to maximise impact.

Webinars

The PEC will hold webinars for prospective applicants to provide them with the opportunity to hear more about the Modern Slavery PEC and its strategic objectives and principles, offer an overview of the call, and give more information on how the successful bid team will collaborate with the Modern Slavery PEC during the research. Please check individual calls’ webpages for further details.

About Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre:

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre is a consortium of universities and Independent Research Organisations with a track record in world class work on modern slavery. It is led by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law (part of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL)) and consisting of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull, the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool, the Bonavero Institute on Human Rights at the University of Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute.

The Centre is funded and actively supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), with input from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), with funding awarded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)from the Strategic Priorities Fund as a result of collaboration with the UK Home Office.

About the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, funds internationally outstanding independent researchers across the whole range of the arts and humanities: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages and literature, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. The quality and range of research supported by AHRC works for the good of UK society and culture and contributes both to UK economic success and to the culture and welfare of societies across the globe.

You can find out more information via ahrc.ukri.org or following us on Twitter at @ahrcpress, on Facebook at @artsandhumanitiesresearchcouncil , or Instagram at @ahrcpress.