Out of the Shadows

Hear about how women and girls can begin to rebuild their lives post-slavery and what sort of support can help in their recovery.

"I don’t know if anybody fully recovers. But I think what they do, is they learn to live a different life. They learn to be independent. And, with the right therapy and help, the trauma comes back less."

Karen Anstiss
Bakhita House

Getting started

  • Do you think it is possible for a victim of modern slavery to ever truly recover?
  • What do you imagine are the primary needs of someone recently rescued from modern slavery?

Watch Out of the Shadows

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Questions from the film

  • What struck you from the film?
  • Did anything you heard surprise you?
  • How did the survivor stories make you feel?
  • What inspired you?
  • What questions does it leave you with?
Did you know wk5 Lent

What does the Bible say?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121


It is difficult to imagine how a survivor can ever forgive the people who have caused their suffering. The list of those who have played a part is often endless – there are the people who have actively inflicted the abuse and there are just as many who have contributed to the pain by failing to notice the signs of suffering or provided the context into which an abuser has acted. There are the parents who have failed to provide a loving home, the teachers who have overlooked a child, the authorities who have blamed a survivor rather than supported them and countless others who have judged or been passive.

How can a survivor forgive someone who isn’t sorry? How can they forgive someone who is still perpetrating the same crimes? How can they choose to let go of the anger they feel and find the strength to move forward? How do they handle the grief and regret of a life destroyed by others? How do they learn to make choices again?

A person trying to recover from trauma may travel through some of the following steps as they seek to discover how to feel safe: grieving, reflecting on some root causes of the events, choosing to forgive, and seeking to establish justice. Many women remain vulnerable and fragile for the rest of their lives and any journey towards recovery is challenging and complex, with many dark days.

The hope is that the trauma becomes integrated into the new self and the individual can live as freely as possible but this doesn’t always happen and sometimes victims are repeatedly targeted and exploited.

During the journey from slavery to freedom, the opening words of Psalm 121 offer encouragement, comfort and hope: ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.’ No matter how dark the situation, we have a God who offers help, love and protection. He promises to watch over His people and His care never ceases - He does not slumber or sleep and He is not limited by time or place.

It can be daunting to wonder how an untrained person can love and support a victim of modern slavery as they recover. While it is vital to recognise the role of professionals in helping victims begin to move away from the trauma and start to live with their past, there is also a place for ordinary, unconditional, dependable friendship and surrounding a survivor with prayer and presence.

For reflection

  1. What strikes you from Psalm 121? What comfort is there and what promises can we cling to?
  2. What is life like for survivors of modern slavery? How can recovery come after entrapment? In the film the survivor says that “it is hard to feel safe.” What are the marks of a community which shines a light on those trapped away from home and being brutalised? What can your community do to help bring peace to those whose minds are in turmoil?
  3. Identify two key features of a loving community and brainstorm how they can be made available so that all people feel safe and secure, surrounded by love and grace.
WITS Week 5 prayer

How has COVID-19 and repeated lockdowns affected victims of modern slavery?

Alison Logier, Service Manager, Hestia
The last nine months have been heartbreakingly difficult for many of the women we support. Their resilience and personal strength continue to inspire me, but the scale of what they are dealing with every day is enormous. Being told to stay inside and concerns over how to access basic supplies are often a trigger to past experiences of slavery and coercion for many women. We’ve been responding to this by providing increased emotional support and dropping off emergency food parcels.

On top of this, many of the women I work with are struggling with feelings of isolation, cut off from their support networks and opportunities to aid their recovery. Those that have children with them have struggled to support home learning during the first lockdown and will now be faced with that daunting prospect again.

As a team, we have been working with generous supporters to get smartphones and internet access to women so they can continue with online learning and maintain relationships. However, this is a huge job and many still do not have access to technology that we all take for granted.

The women I work with rely enormously on foodbanks and donations and very carefully budget their small allowance. However, the pandemic has meant that, at times, the only items left on shelves are very expensive. In the first lockdown, for example, we had cases of women travelling to a supermarket that didn’t have nappies and then not being able to afford to pay for an additional trip to another supermarket. It’s also been a much bigger task to support the many pregnant women we work with to access cots, prams and baby essentials that we normally sourced through local charities.

It is a frightening time. We know that trafficking will not stop. Economic hardship will increase the vulnerabilities of the people we support and we are concerned about the growing risk of re-exploitation. However, we also remain hopeful that the wider community will continue to work in partnership with us. Despite the pandemic, we are determined to work with survivors of modern slavery and help them to build the futures they dream of and deserve.

Further reading

Following this session, why not spend some time during the week reflecting on what you have learnt about the recovery process and finding out more about local victim support projects?

You can also read more about Harriet's radical ministry:

Harriet Monsell - underpinned by prayer

Finally, and most importantly, Mother Harriet continually emphasised the structured life of prayer that formed the foundation of the Clewer House of Mercy from its very beginning. All the women, workers, and Sisters practiced regular worship and recitation of the Daily Office alongside each other, and all were taught that without a spiritual framework, the process of transformation and growth towards God was not possible.

This is echoed in the 12-step programmes that many organisations use today. Programmes such as these constantly remind participants that without the belief that “a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” the process of turning one’s life around is too difficult and not likely to succeed in the long term. Modern workers in social services still find that a spiritual life provides a well of strength and comfort to sustain them through times of difficulty, compassion fatigue, and burnout.

  • Mother Harriet continually emphasised the structured life of prayer as a foundation to the work being developed – embracing all who participated in whatever capacity. How can those of us involved in this work make sure prayer is at the heart of our efforts?
  • How can we encourage others to pray for women in the shadows? How can we keep the plight of vulnerable women and girls on the prayer agenda of our churches and in our personal prayers?

Spotlight on Hestia

Hestia began providing support to adults in crisis in 1970 after founder Jim Horne experienced street homelessness in London. He started a soup run for men and women living on the streets and worked with local authorities to provide accommodation. Within the year, more than 800 people were provided with a safe space to sleep at night. Since then, Hestia has grown to support almost 11,000 adults and children in crisis across London every year.

Hestia is one of the main organisations supporting victims of modern slavery in London. Working in collaboration with local authorities and other partners, it strives to ensure that everyone within its care is equipped with the tools necessary for a life beyond a crisis.



At the beginning of this course, we asked how we might be able to help women living in the shadow of modern slavery. In Tim Keller’s book, Generous Justice, he speaks about the three different stages of development work – immediate relief (e.g. foodbanks), ‘upstream’ to prevent the immediate issue (e.g. the provision of employment training) and the systems (e.g. political) change. The Clewer Initiative has tried to follow this approach and works in each of these areas.

Victim support is one key area we have made a priority. It is a way we can help those upstream – in the shadows – to avoid drowning (or nearly drowning) further down. We understand that the Church (and not just the Church of England) encounters many people in the margins in its social action projects, and that our many church members encompass every sphere of society and every geographical area in the UK (and beyond). We need to upskill ourselves and form partnerships so we can intentionally prevent those we encounter in vulnerable situations from exploitation, trafficking and modern slavery.

The Church is, on a practical level, perfectly placed to tackle this issue - we are also called to follow our Lord who sees all with compassion.

Does this resonate with you? If it does, please contact us. We can connect you with your lead Diocesan officer, who will be able to put you in touch with others in your area. We can help you with tools (such as our apps), training packages, and with victim support training that will enable you to think about how you might help the vulnerable people you encounter.

What can I do right now to help?

  • Pray
  • Build a coalition – can you identify people or groups in your community who care about the issue of modern slavery too? How can you bring them together to brainstorm further action? Find out more about working in communities at www.clewerinitiative.org/what-we-do/working-in-communities or contact us for support clewerinitiative@churchofengland.org.
  • Spread the word – can you start telling others about women and exploitation? Where could you display a ‘Spot the Signs’ poster? Who could you tell about The Clewer Initiative’s apps or Women in the Shadows films? Can you start sharing our messages on your social channels?
  • Attend or run a course - are you volunteering at a local social action project? Are you on the frontline meeting people in your area? Would you be interested in running or attending a modern slavery awareness raising or safeguarding training course for people in your community? We have a range of courses, some of which we can help you run if you are leading a group. For more details visit https://www.theclewerinitiative.org/training.
  • Start noticing the people around you and asking questions – if you don’t know what signs to look out for or questions to ask, why not attend one of our general awareness raising sessions?
  • Visit https://www.theclewerinitiative.org/ to see a range of brilliant resources to help raise awareness of modern slavery and equip the local community to get involved. This includes training courses, posters and leaflets in many different languages, interactive apps and films.

As with other crimes, it is important you report any suspicions of modern slavery to the police. Do not attempt to intervene yourself, as you may put yourself and those around you – including the potential victim – in danger.


  • If there is an emergency and someone is in immediate danger, call 999.
  • If you would like to report any non-emergency suspicious activity in your local area then call your local police on 101 or go to your local police station.
  • If you need advice or support on modern slavery, please call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. It operates 24 hour a day, 365 days a year.
  • For the confidential Salvation Army referral helpline call 0800 121 700

[6] Unseen https://www.unseenuk.org/modern-slavery/facts-and-figures#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20the%20UK%20Modern,men%2C%20while%201%2C476%20were%20women.

Prayer for WITS

"Exploitation can take many forms. We have a responsibility to go looking for it and do something about it."

Shayne Tyler
Group Compliance Director, Fresca Group

We would like to thank everyone who has helped bring the Women in the Shadows project to life:

Film participants:

Jen Baines, Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority https://www.gla.gov.uk/
Louise Hulland, author and modern slavery campaigner https://www.louisehulland.com/
Sister Lynda Dearlove, women@thewell https://watw.org.uk/
Rosie Hopley, Beloved https://beloved.org.uk/
Karen Anstiss, Caritas Bakhita House https://www.caritaswestminster.org.uk/bakhita-house.php
Alison Logier, Hestia https://www.hestia.org/
Shayne Tyler, Fresca Group https://www.frescagroup.co.uk/
Clive Davies, Chief Superintendent, East Surrey Division, www.surrey.police.uk
Jackie Mouradian, Mosaic Creative https://www.mosaiccreative.co.uk/
Bishop Alastair Redfern https://www.theclewerinitiative.org/

Devotional material:

Rev Edwina Fennemore, Rev Caroline Pinchbeck,
Bishop Simon Burton-Jones, Canon Jane Brooke, Bishop Alastair Redfern

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