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The RESPECT group was established in 2008 leading on from the Liverpool Slavery Remembrance Initiative Steering Group. The group was set up by National Museums Liverpool (NML) when the International Slavery Museum (ISM) had recently opened in 2007 creating a need for broader strategic support and direction already provided by the steering group for the annual Slavery Remembrance Day commemorative events.

The group was set up to:

  • Act as a consultative body to help advise the International Slavery Museum (ISM) on the diverse and complex issues with which ISM deals;
  • Act as advocates of ISM;
  • Support ISM to include community input for the next planning stages of the International Slavery Museum and the Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Building developments;
  • Help ISM to improve access and social inclusion, and to create social justice and social value;
  • Support ISM to act in an ethical way at all times, based on principles of social justice;
  • Support the work of ISM in the development and evaluation of new programmes, exhibitions and events;
  • Help ISM raise awareness about and respond to campaigns relating to civil and human rights


Michelle Charters, Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre

Michelle Charters

Michelle is a Community Activist and CEO of Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre in Toxteth, Liverpool She is the Founding Chair of the Merseyside Black History Month Group and first Black woman to be appointed as a  Trustee of the Everyman & Playhouse Theatres in Liverpool. 

Claire Benjamin, National Museums Liverpool

Claire Benjamin

Claire is responsible for the strategic development of the acclaimed House of Memories programme, as well as wider education and community health and wellbeing initiatives across National Museums Liverpool.

Dr Richard Benjamin, National Museums Liverpool

richard benjamin

Richard heads the International Slavery Museum team at National Museums Liverpool. He is responsible for the strategic development of the Museum, including the forthcoming state-of-the-art ISM education and resource centre, partnership work and research. 

Laura Pye, National Museums Liverpool

laura pye

Laura is Director of National Museums Liverpool. Born in Liverpool, Laura returned to the city following several years as Head of Culture for Bristol City Council, with responsibility for the five museums in the city.

Cllr Emily Spurrell, Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office

DPCC cropped

Cllr Emily Spurrell has been Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside since September 2017. She is also a Councillor for Mossley Hill ward in Liverpool, elected May 2012. 

Cllr Anna Rothery, Liverpool City Council

Anna Rothery

Anna has been Labour Councillor for Princes Park Ward in Liverpool since 2006. Anna has been active in promoting participation of BAME communities in civic life. She became the first Liverpool Councillor to speak on the floor at the United Nations in 2012 and was made Mayoral Lead for Equalities with specific responsibility for race equality in 2017.

Janet Dugdale, National Museums Liverpool

janet dugdale

Janet is Executive Director of Museums at National Museums Liverpool and is responsible for all the the collections, curatorial and administrative teams for our museum venues.

Chief Angus Chukuemeka, Crawford House

Chief Angus

Chief Angus has been involved with the International Slavery Museum since 1992 as a member of the Advisory Committee of the Slavery Gallery and The International Slavery Museum.

He is one of the founder members of the Respect Group and leads the Traditional African Libation Ceremony of the Slavery Remembrance Day Celebration an Commemoration on August 23 since 2004.

Christian Owens, Merseyside Police

Christian Owen

Christian is a Detective Sergeant posted to the force Community Engagement Unit and is also on the executive committee of the police LGBT Staff Support Network.

Lois South, ISM Ambassador

louis south

Lois is involved with projects at the Slavery Museum which highlight the importance of community activism, particularly in Liverpool. 

Afrah Qassim, CEO and Co-Founder, Savera UK

Afrah Quassim

Afrah Qassim has a number of responsibilities working as a Community Development Officer within the Liverpool Community Development Services, ta partnership between the NHS and voluntary Organisations working to improve mental health for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities. Afrah is also a founder of Savera UK, a charity registered dedicated to tackling domestic abuse and harmful practices also with BME communities, and a prominent member of the Liverpool Arab Art Festival.

Ray Quarless, Heritage Development Company Liverpool 

ray costello

Ray is a co director of the Heritage Development Company Liverpool (HDCL) which is a Community Interest Company that identifies and locates historical legacy assets belonging to Liverpool’s community of black origin, then showcases them through the medium of exhibition.

John Au, Anthony Walker Foundation

Tiria Barnes, St James Church

Ryna Sherazi, Anti Slavery International

Stephanie Burke, Merseyside Police

Madeline Heneghan, Writing on the Wall

Jimi Jagne, Community activist

Laurence Westgaph, local historian


Membership will be for one year from appointment, and may be renewable.


Individual group members are responsible for reporting back on activities of the group at the quarterly RESPECT group meetings.


Individual group members will review the relevance and value of the RESPECT Group and the terms of reference annually.

Working methods

Meetings will be held quarterly throughout the year.

The Group will be chaired by National Museums Liverpool, and National Museums Liverpool will carry the responsibility for final decisions.

Topics for the agenda will be generated by developments with the ISM Project and a call out to the group two weeks before each meeting.

Agenda and minutes from previous meetings will be circulated one week before each meeting.

The format of the meetings will be round table.

Non group members will be invited to present at the meeting to ensure the RESPECT Group remains current, relevant and connected to city wide and national/international initiatives and agendas pertinent to transatlantic slavery, contemporary slavery and human rights.

National Museums Liverpool will provide administrative support for the meetings.

Group members will share information and resources at the meeting and circulate electronically between meetings. Members will be encouraged to take action outside of the meetings and arrange sub meetings with members as and when required.

Members will feed into National Museums Liverpool’s internal Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group to support workforce diversity.