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The Bakhita Centre is a leading centre for research on slavery, exploitation, and abuse.

Our mission is to produce high quality applied research that makes a difference, advancing knowledge that informs practice and policy. We are especially committed to improving understanding about, and responses to, survivor care and support that addresses issues of equity, diversity and inclusion and cultural competency.  

We are engaged in exploring new and innovative methodologies and creative interventions, building partnerships with academics, practitioners and people with lived experience, to influence practice that supports survivors of slavery, exploitation and abuse.  

Our mission and vision

The Centre is home to a range of activities including:  

  • research and scholarship  
  • Professional Training and Development of Standards for Professional Training  
  • Evaluation of Practice
  • education for people with lived experience, practitioners, and the general public.

These activities represent our commitment to the five research pillars of St Mary’s: 

  • human dignity and social justice
  • health and social wellbeing 
  • professional practice and social impact 
  • creative industries and wellbeing
  • Catholic values and the common good.

Our values align with the values of St Mary’s University, which are:  

  • excellence
  • respect
  • generosity of spirit
  • inclusiveness.

""The Bakhita Centre, formerly the Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery, was established in 2015 to respond to the growing scale of modern slavery and human trafficking globally. The Centre was established to complement the work of Cardinal Vincent Nichols' initiative to combat slavery and trafficking, along with Bakhita House (a London-based safe-house for trafficked women) and the Santa Marta group which seeks to co-ordinate the efforts of law enforcement authorities, NGOs, and governments worldwide.   

Renamed in 2022 after Saint Josephine Bakhita, the Bakhita Centre honours a timeless story of exploitation and abuse experienced by trafficked people on precarious journeys. Saint Josephine Bakhita, born in Darfur Sudan in 1869, was trafficked from Sudan as a young girl, across the Middle East, ending up in Italy. Working for her Italian masters, she was eventually freed with the help of the Canossian Sisters, and converted to Catholicism. She lived as a religious sister until her death in 1947.  She was Canonised in 2000 and is the Patron Saint of victims of human trafficking. Her Feast Day is celebrated on February 8th.   

The Bakhita Centre is staffed by ‘pracademics’ - academics with practitioner backgrounds in diverse fields, including:

  • human trafficking
  • modern slavery
  • drug and alcohol
  • homelessness
  • refugee services.

The team partners with practitioners including those from statutory and voluntary sectors. We aim to make a difference to people affected by human trafficking, modern forms of slavery and intersecting issues of abuse and exploitation.   

Since its establishment in 2015, the Centre has built up a strong network of partners. Honorary Research Fellows active in the Centre have expertise in:

  • social work
  • policing (victim identification and protection and tackling organised crime)
  • business (exploitation in supply chains)
  • survivor interventions (safe house and community support, policy, criminal justice).

Internal partners at St Mary’s include academic experts in:

  • criminology and law
  • communications and media
  • humanities
  • education.

These partnerships enable the Centre to approach the multifaceted issue of modern slavery and human trafficking from a wide-ranging perspective.  

Our people


Dr Carole Murphy
Dr Carole Murphy

Director of the Bakhita Centre and Associate Professor

Dr Anta Brachou
Dr Anta Brachou

Postdoctoral Researcher

Neena Samota
Neena Samota

Senior Lecturer and Subject Lead (Criminology and Sociology)

Dr Jon Hackett
Dr Jon Hackett

Associate Professor (Communications)

Zin Derfoufi
Zin Derfoufi

Senior Lecturer (Criminology and Sociology)

Dr Maria Mellins
Dr Maria Mellins

Associate Professor (Criminology and Sociology)

Jacob Johanssen
Jacob Johanssen

Associate Professor and Subject Lead (Communications)

Dr Kim Salmons
Dr Kim Salmons

Head of the School of Liberal and Creative Arts and Associate Professor (English Literature)

Dr Michelle Paul
Dr Michelle Paul

Associate Professor (Drama)

Olusola Oyeleye
Olusola Oyeleye

Senior Lecturer (Drama)


Amy Plummer
Amy Plummer

The framing of and reception to modern slavery awareness campaigns on social media platforms.

Muinat Mustapha
Muinat Mustapha

Sexual and Gender Based Violence Against Females in Internally Displaced Persons Camps in Northeast Nigeria.

Our supporters and partners

The Centre’s work and various projects have been generously funded and supported by the following funders:

  • Co-op
  • The Gubay Foundation
  • HSBC
  • Assumption Legacy Fund
  • Arise Foundation
  • Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)
  • Strategic Priorities Fund.

The Centre considers partnership working as vital and believes it to necessary to view and understand issues from different perspectives. Having a ‘joined up thinking’ between various sectors and fields has proved to be highly beneficial.

The Centre is keen to expand its networks and bring together people from different agencies and sectors, recognising that they all bring particular skills, resources, understandings and cultures.

In the last few years, the Centre has worked closely with various partners, including:

  • Snowdrop
  • Bakhita House
  • Helen Bamber Foundation
  • Stop the Traffic
  • Justice and Care
  • Women at the Well.

Training standards

The Centre is committed to wider awareness-raising, training, and education, and has delivered talks on modern slavery to diverse audiences, from local to international including the Global Sustainability Network, the National Board of Catholic Women, the UK’s Ministry of Defense and Doctors of the World.

The Centre has also advised the UK’s National Crime Agency and continues to offer research expertise, where possible.

Modern Slavery Rose planting

Bakhita Centre newsletter

We'll soon be launching the the Bakhita Centre newsletter for updates about new and exisiting projects, our postgraduate opportunities and events hosted by the Centre.

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Contact us

We welcome collaborations with external experts. Please do get in touch and tell us what you do. Please contact:

Media enquiries

If you would like to arrange to speak to one of our academics, please contact our Press Office Team:

Study with us

Applicants are encouraged to make contact regarding our MA, Practitioner Course and PhD opportunities. Please contact: