We can’t do justice to all the special events and services that were organised to mark Anti-Slavery Day. It is wonderful to hear of so many innovative initiatives and the ways in which many groups have used arts, craft and photo exhibitions to communicate the horror and presence of modern slavery in a fresh way. Below is a summary of some of the events we know about that took place this month in Peterborough, Salisbury, Winchester, Bristol, Ely, Bridgwater, Great Yarmouth, Canterbury and North Wales.
A ‘pop-up’ exhibition at Peterborough Cathedral
Peterborough Cathedral hosted the National Crime Agency's Invisible People exhibition on 18th and 19th October. Each image depicts a scene from an industry where modern slavery is prevalent, with the aim of getting the public talking about this issue.
Schools Art Exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral hosted an amazing art exhibition in its Chapter House from 15th-25th October. Children and young people from 16 primary and secondary schools across the diocese of Salisbury took part, producing artwork on the theme of modern slavery in a range of styles and mediums.
Bridgwater Art Exhibition
St Mary’s Church in Bridgwater hosted an art exhibition to coincide with Anti-Slavery Day. Many local people contributed artwork depicting the horrors of modern slavery. Councillor Brian Smedley also spoke at a special event on Anti-Slavery Day about Bridgwater’s history in fighting slavery. Bridgwater was the first town council to petition the government against the slave trade in 1785. More recently, Bridgwater Hidden Voices has been continuing in that tradition, working hard to tackle the issues of modern slavery in their community.
Mural in Great Yarmouth
To mark Anti-Slavery Day, Imagine Norfolk Together and Park Baptist Church unveiled an eye-catching mural on a wall in Great Yarmouth. The mural depicts four of the most common industries where slavery occurs - car washes, nail bars, construction, and domestic work - and is accompanied by a plaque with further details on how to spot the signs of modern slavery. The mural is part of a wider local strategy to raise awareness of modern slavery. For example, Great Yarmouth Library is hosting a display of books related to the subject and Anna Heydon, Development Worker with Imagine Norfolk Together, was accompanied by PC Claire Hamilton-Deane to host an information stall at the library cafe to help answer questions on slavery.
Anti-slavery sculpture made from plastic bottles and punnets
The Southampton and Test Valley Stop the Traffik group commissioned Ruth Fielder to make a sculpture that would spark interest and reflection on the presence of modern slavery in communities. She designed an installation made of transparent plastic bottles and punnets to highlight the hiddenness of modern slavery. Two figures, representing adults and children who are trapped in slavery, are behind a wall of transparent punnets. Holes in the wall represent those who manage to escape from their traffickers. The installation is available to venues across Hampshire over the coming 12 months and is part of the ‘Real faces of Modern Slavery: unmasking the truth’ exhibition at some of its venues.
To mark Anti-Slavery Day, Canterbury Cathedral and Diocese of Canterbury Refugee Project Board hosted The Great British Fish and Chips exhibition. The exhibition shared everyday stories of migration connected to the UK’s most celebrated high street food and artist Olivier Kugler gave a brief talk about the artwork and his practice, informed by stories related to refugees and migration. The event at Canterbury Cathedral also provided a chance for local organisations and individuals who work or volunteer with the refugee and asylum communities in East Kent to meet one another.
Ely Cathedral had several events to support Anti-Slavery Day including an exhibition of paintings by London-based Syrian artist, Sara Shamma; a craft exhibition featuring crocheted chains by the local community and a schools’ day.
North Wales craftivism project
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.
Anti-Slavery Day service in 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 Councillors Yassin Mohamud, Jos Clark, Lorraine Francis, Heather Mack, Tony Dyer, Katy Grant, Christine Townsend and Mohamed Makawi showed their support for fighting modern slavery in Bristol by attending the service. They also unveiled the chain of 951 links to represent the estimated number of victims of modern slavery in Bristol.