Two Bishopston Mums, Sue Rees (also a part-time teacher at St Bonaventures) and Claire Walford have been working together over the last few months to pioneer an ambitious craftivism project to mark Anti-Slavery Day on 18th October. They have challenged groups across the UK to pick up their crochet hooks and knitting needles and create giant crochet chains that symbolise and remember the thousands of unseen victims of modern slavery.
In Bristol, the goal is to create a chain of 951 links to represent the 951 potential victims of modern slavery in Bristol . The chain will be unveiled at the Anti-Slavery service at Bristol Cathedral on Sunday 17th October at 3.30pm. Anyone interested in finding out about modern slavery is welcome to come to the service.
Sue Rees, who came up with the idea originally and shared it with Claire, has been working hard behind the scenes, spreading the word amongst the Bristol craft community, and leading a zoom workshop for interested people from the Mothers’ Union and beyond. She is currently connecting the 951 links together in time for the launch at Bristol Cathedral.
Excitingly, the idea has gone viral! Sue mentions: “Chains are being made by Mothers’ Union groups in Oxford, Cornwall, Manchester, Portsmouth, Chester and Leicester and we have even got an email from someone in the USA who is intending to post some links to us!”
For Claire, the project is part of her work for The Clewer Initiative , the Church of England’s response to modern slavery. She works in their communications team and is always looking to encourage churches and communities to find out more about modern slavery.
She explains: “When I first began working for The Clewer Initiative, I didn’t know much about modern slavery. I certainly didn’t know how prevalent it is in the UK and how ruthless and sophisticated criminal gangs can be, grooming and hiding victims in all sorts of businesses. The Clewer Initiative strapline is “We See You” and we believe that if we all start noticing and caring about the people who live around us and provide services and goods for us, we will begin to make progress in thwarting the exploiters. I am now much more clued up on and alert for the signs of modern slavery. The crochet chain project is a simple way in which we can draw attention to the issue and challenge people to find out more about modern slavery – about how victims get targeted and what to do if you have suspicions or concerns.
“Anti-Slavery Day provides a perfect opportunity to raise awareness. The craftivism project has been particularly well received because it is a way for people to get involved without having to gather in big numbers or attend events. The Mothers’ Union in Bristol and a number of Facebook groups have been at the heart of the project and we hope that by making the chain 951 links long, people will begin to grasp the true scale and horror of the issue in our communities. It is vital that we all know that modern slavery is present in every community and the signs to look out for.”
To find out more about Anti-Slavery Day or modern slavery, visit https://theclewerinitiative.org/
 This figure is based on the Global Slavery Index which estimates there are 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK. The population of the UK is 66.65million. The population of Bristol city is 465,900. Calculated as a proportion and assuming the victims of slavery are evenly spread across the country, this would mean approximately 951 victims in Bristol.