We believe the best action to prevent labour exploitation and to identify and support survivors will be designed based on evidence from those affected and at-risk.

Our wide range of research covers the following areas:

  • the UK labour market and the experiences of at-risk workers
  • the experiences of trafficked persons’ engagement with state agencies
  • corporate reporting and mechanisms for addressing human trafficking in supply chains

Pioneering participatory approaches

FLEX believes partnership with, and participation of, those affected by labour abuse and exploitation is crucial to effective research. For this reason, we have been developing and pioneering participatory approaches to research on human trafficking for labour exploitation.

In 2018, we developed a ‘community researcher methodology’, working with London construction workers to enable them to research the experiences of their own communities and raise their voices for change. 

Over the past 3 years, FLEX has been piloting a participatory research approach called Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR). Despite being experts by experience and the ones most affected by policy decisions, workers at risk are rarely involved in developing solutions to labour exploitation. FLEX believes that working together with workers to generate knowledge and advocate for change will lead to better evidence-based policies and on-the-ground change, and participatory research approaches are a means to achieve this by working ‘with’, rather than ‘for’ or ‘on’, at-risk workers.  Our publication, Experts by Experience: Conducting Feminist Participatory Action Research with Workers in High-Risk Sectors, documents our experience of doing FPAR with women and young migrant workers in high-risk sectors. The first working paper based on our FPAR approach, “If I could change anything about my work…”: Participatory Research with Cleaners in the UK, was published in January 2021.

Some key research publications are listed below, and you can find all our publications here