Alicia Kidd is a PhD Student at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull. The Wilberforce Institute is one of the world’s leading research centres working towards the end of labour exploitation and slavery worldwide.
She said: “Freedom Festival is the highlight of my year, I always go.
It has a really inclusive feel. For most of the programme, you can wander around until something piques your interest rather than having to book in advance. This means you go to see things you might not ordinarily have experienced – and it makes you think about things differently. At last year’s festival, I went to an interactive drama piece which centred on the experiences of refugees; it shone a whole new light on this issue, allowing me to understand a refugee’s experience in the UK through their own eyes.
Alongside the Wilberforce Institute’s Director, John Oldfield, I delivered a Freedom Talk on the subject of modern slavery as part of the festival last year too. Although many people consider slavery an issue of the past, the truth is that it still very much exists across the world today.
Delivering the Freedom Talk enabled us to communicate this serious issue to new audiences – those who might not necessarily attend a public lecture on the topic, but find they are engaged nonetheless. We had people of all ages wandering in to see what was happening in the Freedom Tent – and staying to find out what the issues are around modern slavery, asking questions that showed they had heard something new. I think the thing is, once you think about modern slavery in depth, it’s impossible to say that you’ve played no part in it – that you know exactly who made the products that you buy and under what conditions.
The programme has a great way of mixing the serious side of the ethos behind the festival alongside the fun. Naturally, I’m passionate about the issues of slavery and freedom – and I think it is important to find alternative ways of communicating these in order to bring them to people’s attention. I think it’s important that both Wilberforce and the city’s place in history is remembered and celebrated. I am lucky enough to study in a building next to Wilberforce House that is overlooked by William’s statue, so I have a daily reminder; the festival is a fantastic way to commemorate and celebrate the city’s pioneering independent spirit.
One of the things I love most about Freedom Festival is how it appeals to all ages; and gets children interested in the meaning of freedom at a young age. Children are our future and if we can engage them in the meaning and importance of freedom while they are young, we have a chance to inspire them to do something about it for future generations.”
For further information on the Wilberforce Institute click here.
Photo: Anete Sooda, Freedom Festival 2017 Tent Talks