For the love of crochet!

6th May 2021 | Awareness raising ideas

How one woman using her love of crochet to raise awareness of modern slavery.

The Clewer Initiative

The Clewer Initiative spoke to Sue Rees, a part-time primary school teacher and part-time jewellery maker in Bristol about her crafty plans to mark Anti-Slavery Day!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am Sue and I am a part time primary school teacher and part-time jewellery maker ( I’ve been a Christian all my life and belong to an Anglican church plant in Bristol called Emmanuel Bristol. I come from a long line of creative people and so have had lots of hobbies throughout my life, all of them involving either music or making.

At the moment, I’m an avid knitter and crocheter, with a bit of sewing on the side. I have usually got too many projects on the go at one time! I love to make things that have meaning and bring joy to others. I was recently asked to make necklaces to give as Easter gifts to vulnerable women in Bristol supported by the charity Beloved. I’ve been selling them to raise funds.

What is craftivism?

Craftivism is the art of gentle activism. It is taking the time to produce a carefully crafted piece that brings awareness to others of a particular need in the local community or further afield. All over the country people are involved in both group and individual projects such as embroidering hankies to send to their MPs or making patches for protest banners. The time and care that is taken has an impact. It is not a new thing - the suffragette movement used their creative skills to bring awareness to their cause with handcrafted banners and brooches.

How are you using craft to raise awareness of modern slavery?

A few years ago, I joined in with a ‘yarn bombing’ project for Bristol charity unseen to raise awareness of modern slavery. I crocheted a fluorescent pink and yellow scarf to wrap around the white tree (a local landmark). It was huge! This time I wanted to make something small that could be picked up by a person and kept, something useful that can remind the person of what it represents. I’ve decided to make chain keyrings - three links of crochet chain to represent slavery with a tag that will include information about modern slavery, and possibly a QR code to link to more information and charities to support. I am making them to coincide with Anti-Slavery Day in October when I’ll hopefully have loads to literally leave around Bristol for people to find and take home. I will also be sending them to my MP and maybe other high-profile people too.

There are so many injustices in the world that you could campaign against. Why has the fight against modern slavery captured your heart?

Earlier this year, I signed up for the Women in the Shadows Lent course. The stories of the survivors were harrowing, and it would have been easy to think that I can’t do anything about it, it’s just too big a problem. While I know I cannot solve the problem, I can help in a small way. I can spread the word so that more people are aware and can look for the signs and support the charities involved.

What do you hope will be achieved through your craft?

I am hoping that through the project I can bring awareness of modern slavery to more people in my community. I hope that people who find a keyring will investigate more and donate to support the ongoing work of anti-slavery charities.

On a personal note, the act of making the chain links is repetitive and mindful. While I’m making them, I’m thinking of and praying for the survivors, and for those still suffering and trapped. I tend to make them whilst watching church online!

What would you say to others reading this newsletter who love craft and care about modern slavery?

Join in! Either come up with your own idea or copy mine - the more the merrier. If I make 100 keyrings and one person takes action, that’s one more person than before.

Could you consider using craft to raise awareness of modern slavery in your community? Could you gather a group of creative people and make a plan to mark Anti-Slavery Day? Let us know your ideas!

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