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