Students create a dazzling glass panel

21st February 2023

The Clewer Initiative

The Clewer Initiative recently collaborated with Southwark Cathedral and The Glaziers’ Company (one of the ancient Livery Companies of the City of London) on an eye-catching, creative project with local school children.

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Young people, from a range of backgrounds and aged twelve to fourteen, were given an introduction to modern slavery and then worked with the team from The Glaziers' Company to design a stained-glass panel to help articulate their reflections.

The stained-glass panel was unveiled at Southwark Cathedral where there was a further presentation about modern day slavery. The beautiful glass panel will now go on display to schools in the area and also at Southwark Cathedral and Glaziers’ Hall.

Southwark Cathedral glass panel 5
Southwark Cathedral glass panel 3

This is a brilliant example of a strategic partnership which enabled us to fulfil our mission to raise awareness of modern slavery and equip communities to spot the signs of exploitation. It is also a good example of education work and making the most of the strategic role that Cathedrals play.

The project worked on many different levels.

Firstly, it was an unforgettable experience for the young people who were chosen to participate in the project. Over the course of several weeks, The Glaziers Company worked closely with local students, helping them reflect on their learnings and represent them in stained glass. We know that for these students they will always remember this hands-on lesson and they will no doubt go on to be advocates against slavery in their schools and families. With modern slavery present in every community, it is so important that we inspire and motivate individuals and every student engaged through this project is another person who joins the cause and may be instrumental in spotting slavery.

Secondly, Southwark Cathedral hosted a brilliant anti-slavery weekend to mark the unveiling of the stained-glass panel. This two-day event provided an opportunity for hundreds of school children, clergy, partners, dignitaries and parishioners to see the artwork in its earlier stages, appreciate the final window and find out more about modern slavery. The glass panel was the centrepiece of the event, and its incredible colours and images prompted much reflection and comment. It was an excellent medium in which to communicate more about modern slavery to a wider audience.

Thirdly, the project has longevity. The glass panel has already been used in other settings to raise awareness and trigger discussion about slavery and we intend to use it regularly at events and seminars around the country. We hope to hold it up as an example of what other cathedrals and groups could do to engage local schools and raise awareness in communities.

None of this would be possible without The Glaziers’ Company. We are extremely grateful for their expertise and willingness to get involved with fighting this often-unseen form of suffering. Their passion to use their skills to educate and inform the next generation is humbling and exemplary. We hope this is just the beginning of a long-term partnership where we can work together to raise awareness of modern slavery across the UK in churches, schools, cathedrals and communities as a whole.

Listen to The Revd Canon Jay Colwill, Canon Missioner at Southwark Cathedral, explain how the project unfolded

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