Anti-Slavery Day 2021 – Local ‘Lincs’

Since 2010, and the passing of the UK’s Anti-Slavery Day Act, the 18th October has become an annual day of awareness-raising, and of reflection, on the continued plight of the millions of people who remain enslaved around the world today.

Globally, it is estimated that there are around 40 million people living in situations of ‘modern slavery’. An umbrella term, ‘modern slavery’ refers to situations of ‘exploitative labour that places one person in the control of another’.[1]  This could include forced or bonded labour, human trafficking, descent-based slavery, child labour and forced or early marriage. Forced labour is by far the most prevalent form of modern slavery, accounting for approximately 60% of all cases around the world.[2]

Modern forms of slavery can be found in every country around the world, including in the UK.[3] Forced labour is the most common form of slavery here, and is believed to be fuelled by a demand for cheap products and services. Often this labour sees people trapped into working on farms, in construction, nail bars, hospitality, car washes, or in factories. In 2019, over 10,000 people were referred to the authorities as victims of modern slavery in the UK but the true number of how many people remain enslaved in this country is believed to be much higher.[4] In 2017, the Centre for Social Justice used a new data modelling technique to analyse crime reporting and intelligence records. Applying their findings across the whole country, they concluded that there is likely to be at least 100,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK.[5] The situation over the last two years with Coronavirus is likely to have exacerbated the problem.

In 2017 Lincolnshire Police secured the successful conviction of a family of 11 perpetrators, in the largest modern slavery trial in UK legal history.[6] The Rooney family had kept victims in squalid conditions and forced them to work for little or no pay. One had been trapped by them for 26 years. This conviction was the result of a large scale, county-wide operation which had begun in 2014. In 2019, Lincolnshire Police reported a sharp rise in the number of victims of modern slavery identified across the county. This had quadrupled, from 51 victims identified in 2018 to over 200 the following year.[7] Another noted reality of the situation in the county was that the widely-accepted myth that modern slavery was only affecting foreign nationals was not true – the third highest number of victims were people from the UK.

Modern slavery is often hidden in plain sight, and as such can be difficult to identify. Anti-slavery International, founded in 1839 as the oldest human rights organisation in the world, has identified a number of signs that might mean someone is enslaved.[8] They might:

  • appear to be in the control of someone else and reluctant to interact with others
  • not have personal identification on them
  • have few personal belongings, wear the same clothes every day or wear unsuitable clothes for work
  • not be able to move around freely
  • be reluctant to talk to strangers or the authorities
  • appear frightened, withdrawn, or show signs of physical or psychological abuse
  • dropped off and collected for work always in the same way, especially at unusual times, i.e. very early or late at night.


If you’re worried about someone, having noted any of the above, then you can report your concerns directly with the Modern Slavery Helpline by calling 0800 121 700 or visit the Modern Slavery Helpline website where you can also complete a report online. Lincolnshire Police also recommend that you download the @UnseenUK app to find out more about the signs of modern slavery and how to report your concerns.

[1] Anti-Slavery International – FAQs

[2] Forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking (Forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking) (

[3] Modern slavery in the UK – Anti-Slavery International (

[4] 2020 UK annual report on modern slavery (

[5] It still happens here: Fighting UK Slavery in the 2020s – The Centre for Social Justice

[6] Rooney traveller family jailed for modern slavery offences – BBC News

[7] Sharp rise in modern slavery across Lincolnshire | LincolnshireWorld

[8] Spot the signs of slavery and what to do – Anti-Slavery International (

Thanks to Rebecca Craven who authored this blogpost. 

Black Disabled activists/ Black Activism for disability: Johnnie Lacy

To mark Black History Month 2021, we will be posting several guest posts on unheard or little-known stories. Some are from Lincolnshire, others from the wider world may be better-known elsewhere, but we should know them better here, and find inspiration in them. This blog was written by Olivia Hennessy, on behalf of the University of Lincoln Students Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (SEDIC).

The theme we have chosen for Black History Month is Black disability history. We felt that this group should be more represented and recognised by students so they can share the stories of Black disabled activists. This series will focus on activists and Black activism for disability. Let’s start with Johnnie Lacy.

Lacy’s upbringing in the US deep south shaped her understanding of race in the 1930s and 1940s. The education system in Louisiana demonstrates the racial segregation that Johnnie Lacy faced.

At the age of 19, Lacy contracted polio which left her paralysed. This was while she was in the middle of studying for a nursing degree. She also was battling ableism and discrimination. Lacy later went on to study at San Francisco State University, but her re-entry into education was not easy. Her head of department attempted to deny her entry onto her course. Eventually, Lacy was allowed to enrol, but was not allowed to participate in her graduation or be a part of her school. From her college experiences, Lacy describes how she viewed her blackness with her disability:

‘But I basically was forming my own personal philosophy and political philosophy, and I never really felt completely a part of a movement, African-American movement, mainly because I was very much aware that I was not particularly acknowledged as an African-American with a disability who had ideas, who could contribute, and all of those things. That also was kind of a later development for me.

It has been problematic for blacks to identify with disability. My classmates would have had to accept my disability within the same intellectual framework as my blackness–that of an oppressed minority opposite.’

I believe that African Americans see disability in the same way that everybody else sees it–worthless, mindless–without realizing that this is the same attitude held by others toward African Americans. This belief in effect cancels out the black identity they share with a disabled black person, both socially and culturally, because the disability experience is not viewed in the same context as if one were only black, and not disabled. Because of this myopic view, I as a black disabled person could not share in the intellectual dialogue viewed as exclusive to black folk. In other words, I could be one or the other but not both.’

All of this led to her become a disability rights activist, working for Berkeley’s Centre for Independent Living and similar institutions, and she eventually became the Director of Community Resources for Independent Living in Hayward, California.

Lacy often spoke of being excluded from the Black community due to her disability and from the disability community due to being a person of colour. As a Black woman in a wheelchair, she educated her communities about race and disability and served as a role model for many other black women with disabilities. She was, and continues to be, an inspiring woman that deserves more recognition, so that is why SEDIC has written about this powerful individual.


Ramp Your Voice. ‘Black History Month 2017: Johnnie Lacy, Defiantly Black and Disabled’, February 10th 2017. [Accessed on 29/09/21]