Chains 1

Linking together

16th September 2021 | Anti-Slavery Day

We would love to see more photos of your craftivism projects

The Clewer Initiative

How the Mothers' Union and Bristol artisans are uniting to raise awareness of slavery

In our August newsletter, we wrote about the hopes of the Bristol Mothers’ Union to mark Anti-Slavery Day by creating a giant crochet chain of 951 links to represent the 951 potential victims of modern slavery in Bristol. Since then, the members of the Mothers’ Union plus many other Bristol artisans and supporters have been busy crocheting chains and raising awareness.

Sue Rees, who devised the idea originally, has been working hard behind the scenes, spreading the word amongst the Bristol craft community, and leading a zoom workshop for interested Mothers’ Union members. She is also planning to connect the 951 links together as soon as the target is hit.

Excitingly, the idea has also gone viral! We have received many emails asking for further information about the project and even got an email from someone in the USA who is intending to post some links to us! Several other Mothers' Union including Oxford, Cornwall, Manchester, Portsmouth, Chester and Leicester are following Bristol’s lead and creating chains to represent the victims in their regions.

In late August, Aurea Hart, the Diocesan President of the Bristol Mothers’ Union, spoke to BBC Radio Bristol’s Breakfast show about the campaign and was able to share widely about Anti-Slavery Day, the Mothers’ Union, The Clewer Initiative and modern slavery in general.

Aurea Hart explains: “We are getting close to our goal of 951 links and the chain should be ready to make a big impact at Bristol Cathedral’s Anti-Slavery Day service on Sunday 17th October. We hope to invite local campaigners, politicians, clergy, and media to attend the service and be photographed with the giant chain. The project has really caught people's imagination. What I think is particularly powerful is the way we are representing the number of victims in our city – hopefully by making this 951-link chain it will help people begin to grasp the true horror and scale of slavery, rather than just hear an innocuous number. I am also thrilled that other Dioceses and groups are picking up the idea and making chains to reflect the number of victims in their areas.”

Chains 2

Here's a snapshot of other groups that are piggybacking the idea!

Chester’s chain

In Chester, Canon Jane Brooke, Vice Dean at Chester Cathedral is working in partnership with the Mothers’ Union to create a chain with 47 links. 47 is the number of people who were referred from slavery in Cheshire in 2020. For its Anti-Slavery Day service on Sunday October 17th, the chain links will be placed down the aisle at Chester Cathedral and the procession will walk either side. The president will also wear a knitted chain of small green links to represent those trapped in slavery.

Oxford’s chain

In Oxford, the Mothers’ Union is attempting to make a chain of 752 links to reflect the number of potential victims in the county towns of Reading, Oxford and Buckingham. The rector at Reading Minster will receive the chain on 18th October and it will be on display for a week before beginning a year-long journey round the branch churches in the diocese.

Manchester’s chain

As Manchester has a very large population, the estimated number of potential modern slavery victims is sadly very large too. The Mothers’ Union in Manchester is therefore aiming to make 1,129 slightly smaller links to reflect the hidden victims in the city. They hope to launch the final chain at the Mothers’ Union’s Manchester Autumn Council for MU members on 14th October at Church House in Manchester where it will be blessed and prayers for Anti-Slavery Day offered. They are then hoping to display the chain within the city for a week from 18th October. After that, the chain can be used as a resource for branches/members to borrow along with corresponding information to raise further awareness within the diocese.

North Cornwall’s chain

Kerstin Lewis, who is based in North Cornwall, is hoping to mount two small exhibitions in the week of 18th October at St Adwena in Advent and St Endellion. She is aiming to make a chain with 200 links to represent the number of potential victims in the North of the county. The chain will be on display for a month until Remembrance Day. On 21st October, the branch meeting at St Endellion will use some of The Clewer Initiative’s service suggestions to help mark Anti-Slavery Day and remember and pray for victims.

We would love to see more photos of your craftivism projects – please let us know if you are organising a similar campaign in your area. Please send photos to and we will share them on our social media channels.

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