An explosion of chains across the country

25th October 2021 | Anti-Slavery Day

The Clewer Initiative

Over the last few years, The Clewer Initiative and Mothers’ Union have formed a vital partnership, united in our goal to end modern slavery.

Since August when The Clewer Initiative launched its craftivism campaign, hundreds of Mothers’ Union members have worked tirelessly to create crochet chains that represent the estimated number of modern slavery victims in their Dioceses or cities. Anti-Slavery Day saw their moving work unveiled! Thank you so much to everyone at the Mothers’ Union who crocheted, knitted, prayed and to those who attended Anti-Slavery Day services to launch their chains. A big thanks also to Sue Rees for the original idea.

We were also able to speak to the media about the craftivism project and conduct several regional radio and TV interviews. Check out Sue Rees and Claire Walford on BBC Radio Bristol:


The Bristol Mothers’ Union chain consists of 951 links to represent the estimated number of victims of modern slavery in Bristol. It is now on display at Bristol Cathedral. Dozens of modern slavery campaigners and local dignitaries including The Deputy Lord Mayor of Bristol, Rt Revd Dr Lee Rayfield, the Bishop of Swindon, Mark Shelford, Avon & Somerset Police & Crime Commissioner, Detective Chief Inspector Ed Yaxley (Chair of Avon & Somerset Anti-Slavery Partnership), James Durie (the Chief Executive of Bristol Chambers of Commerce & West of England Initiative), Caroline Virgo (director of The Clewer Initiative), Kathryn Anderson (Mothers’ Union Provincial President), Aurea Hart (Diocesan President of the Bristol Mothers’ Union), Caroline Jowell-Ive (Diocese of Bristol), David Maggs (Diocese of Bath & Wells), Majors Peter and Christa Beeldman (Salvation Army) and Bristol City Councillors Yassin Mohamud, Jos Clark, Lorraine Francis, Heather Mack, Tony Dyer, Katy Grant, Christine Townsend and Mohamed Makawi were photographed with the chain and attended an Anti-Slavery service in the Cathedral.

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Bristol Cathedral display
Sue Rees and Claire Walford
Bristol Cathedral display 2
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the Mothers’ Union in Manchester made a chain with 2041 links to represent the number of people hidden in slavery in Manchester, Salford and Bury. The chain was installed in Manchester Cathedral until the end of October.



The Mothers’ Union of Leicester reached its enormous target of making 10,000 links to represent the estimated 10,000 victims of modern slavery that are hidden in and around Leicester.

Blackburn chains


The Mothers’ Union in Blackburn Diocese came to the project rather late. However, managed to knit 560 links in about 3 weeks. Because there are an estimated 3000 people in modern day slavery in the Blackburn area, every link represents at least 5 people. It is on display in Blackburn Cathedral.

North Cornwall

The Mothers’ Union in North Cornwall organised two small exhibitions at St Adwena in Advent and St Endellion. On display was a chain of 200 links to represent the estimated 200 victims of modern slavery that are hidden in various different businesses and homes in North Cornwall.

Chester chains


Chester Cathedral marked Anti-Slavery Day with a special Eucharist service. At the start, a chain (made by the Mothers’ Union) with 47 links was unveiled to represent the 47 people in Cheshire who went through the National Referral Mechanism in 2020. The Dean of Manchester gave an exposition on slavery and racism.


The Mothers’ Union in Canterbury made chains with 191 links to highlight the number of modern slavery investigations in Kent. It was displayed in the Cathedral crypt to coincide with Anti-Slavery Day.



Claire Walford and Sue Rees, members of Emmanuel Bristol, took some of the leftover links from the central Bristol chain and decorated the sign outside their church. They also attached posters about modern slavery in general and signs to look out for.

Ely chains


Ely Cathedral exhibited chains crocheted by the local community.


The Mothers’ Union in Oxford made giant chains to symbolise the number of unseen victims of modern slavery across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

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Oxford chains
North Wales Police

North Wales

The North Wales Police Protecting Vulnerable People Unit copied The Clewer Initiative and Mothers’ Union idea to make crotchet chains representing victims of Modern Slavery. They worked with Canolfan Dewi Sant, who put an appeal on their social media asking for volunteers to crotchet links. Once completed the chain has been displayed in Canolfan Dewi Sant with a sign explaining what it is. The original plan was to make 53 links to reflect the number of child victims in North Wales since October 2020 but they have exceeded this target! Volunteers from all over the community joined in to work on this project including pupils from Nant-y-Bryniau Education Centre, Abergele.

Kathryn Anderson necklace

The Mothers’ Union Provincial President, Kathryn Anderson, wore a specially made crochet chain necklace to the Bristol Cathedral Anti-Slavery Day Service


The Mothers' Union in Rochester partnered with Modern Slavery activists in the Diocese to crochet a chain of 156 links: 133 for the potential number of victims in Rochester alone. The extra links represent the still hidden voices in the area. The spire of the Cathedral was also lit red in recognition of Anti-Slavery Day. Canon Precentor, Matthew Rushton, led Evensong at the Cathedral and the crochet chain was laid on the Altar in the Quire. Prayers were said for the victims of modern slavery.

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