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To mark Anti-Slavery Day (18th October 2021), the Mothers’ Union in the Oxford Diocese has spent the summer knitting and crocheting giant chains that symbolise the number of unseen victims of modern slavery across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. The incredible chain will be unveiled next week at Reading Minster.
The Mothers’ Union, in collaboration with The Clewer Initiative (the Church of England’s response to modern slavery), was looking for a way to generate interest around Anti-Slavery Day and raise awareness of modern slavery in a COVID-secure way. It decided to make chain links to represent the estimated 4380 (1) victims of modern slavery in the Oxford Diocese and enlisted the support of its local Mothers’ Union branches to help reach the ambitious goal.
Caroline Virgo, director of The Clewer Initiative, comments: “The Clewer Initiative and Mothers’ Union are united in our goal to end modern slavery in the UK. The craft chain project is a simple way in which we are attempting to awaken local communities to the horror of slavery and challenge people to find out more about the issue. We are often told by frontline workers in statutory services that any way of getting the message about modern slavery to a general demographic is useful. We hope that each chain will result in many conversations about modern slavery and people resolving to take concrete action.”
Maureen Weston, Diocesan President of the Mothers’ Union in the Oxford Diocese, explains: “Anti-Slavery Day provides a perfect opportunity to raise awareness. The handicraft project has been particularly well received because it is a way for people to get involved without having to gather in big numbers or attend events. The eye-catching chains have enabled us to raise awareness of the presence of mode Victims rn slavery to a much wider audience. They are a powerful symbol and we hope that the 1460 links will help people begin to grasp the true scale and horror of the issue in our communities.”
On Monday, 18th October, Anti-slavery Day, the chain will be unveiled at an exhibition at the Reading Minster Church by Maureen Weston, diocesan President of Mothers’ Union. The exhibition will then tour different churches across the Diocese during the following weeks.
For all media enquiries, contact Jenny Searle on 07785 938071
Notes to Editors
For more information about modern slavery, visit Mothers’ Union partner, The Clewer Initiative, https://theclewerinitiative.org/
For information on the partnership between the Mothers’ Union and The Clewer Initiative, visit https://www.mothersunion.org/projects/mothers-union-clewer-partnership
The Clewer Initiative
The Clewer Initiative was launched in 2016 as the Church of England’s response to modern slavery. The Clewer Initiative exists to mobilise the Church and communities to take action against modern slavery. We aim to share learning, signpost best practice amongst our partners and contribute to policymaking and more effective legislation.
The Clewer Initiative works in varying ways with the Church of England’s 42 dioceses as well as with other denominations, faith groups and community organisations. It shares learning and knowledge through its network and helps support community-based projects.
The Clewer Initiative is funded by the Clewer Sisters, an Anglican order of Augustinian nuns founded in 1852 to help marginalised, young women who found themselves homeless and drawn into the sex trade.
1 This figure is based on the Global Slavery Index which estimates there are 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK. The population of the UK is 66.65million. The population of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire is 2.14million. Calculated as a proportion and assuming the victims of slavery are evenly spread across the country, this would mean approximately 4380 victims in the Oxford Diocese.
It’s time to get out your knitting needles or crochet hooks again!
The Clewer Initiative estimates that 0.2% of the population (2 in every 1000) are victms of modern slavery.
As our contribution to Anti-Slavery Day on Monday 18th October we hope to make a knitted/crocheted chain of 752 links. This represents the potential victims of modern slavery in our “county” towns of Oxford, Reading and Buckingham. By its very nature modern slavery is hidden, meaning it’s difficult to give a specific number, so we are using The Clewer Initiative recommendation.
When the chain is complete we’ll be taking it to Reading Minster where our Chaplain, Mary Harwood, will bless it and it will stay on display for a week. Following that, we plan to pass it round as many branches as we can during the following year, again for a week at a time.
The (very easy) knitting and crochet patterns can be found by clicking on the links below. This is a great opportunity to use up those small amounts of yarn that are always left at the end of a project to make multicoloured links. Once you have completed your links (please try to make at least ten, they really are very simple to make), and sewn them together please email Jean Vaughan at firstname.lastname@example.org for the address of where to send them.
In the previous edition of FOCUS we asked for nominations for Diocesan President. No names have yet been put forward. Please prayerfully consider any names of members who might be willing to take up this role. In the first instance please speak to our retiring President Maureen Weston.
AREA VICE PRESIDENTS
Tricia Campbell (Oxfordshire) and Val Bolan (West Berks) are able and willing to continue in post.
Christine Beynon (South Bucks) and Rachel Buckley (North Bucks) must retire as they have served 6 years in post. Jean Vaughan (East Berks) is moving on to become Unit Coordinator for Action &Outreach and so a new AVP is needed for this area. If you are a member in one of these areas, please consider who you wish to put forward as your representative. The Trustees have just updated the AVP role description, click on the link below to have a look at what is involved. After thinking and praying about your choice, speak to the person you feel could be your AVP and complete the nomination form linked to below. Forms can be sent to CMS House by post, marked for the attention of Louise Butler, or email it to email@example.com. The closing date for nominations is 30th September.
Louise Butler must retire as Unit Coordinator of Finance and Administration. Please contact her if you would like more information about this post or if you know someone who could replace her.
Early in July there’s a weekend of fun and activities planned for lots of the families that Children Heard and Seen are supporting. There’ll be about 50 children coming, along with parents, and the age range of the children is from 2 to 16! Should be a great event.
There is accommodation available indoors but everyone will need a sleeping bag. I’ve had a few donated but if you or your families are having a clear out, or grandchildren have grown into adult size bags, I’d love to have them. I’m happy to wash and make them fresh again.
As many of the families will be travelling by train it would also be great if there were wellington boots available to use while they’re at the site. Early morning grass is always wet and starting the day with dry feet is so much more comfortable. All sizes, especially small child size, welcome.
The weekend will really boost the children’s confidence and give them so many happy memories to take home.
The Diocesan Projects account is always available if you feel like making a donation, via Eve or Geoff, but do let me know if you have anything to collect and I can arrange for that.
Action and Outreach
This year the format we have used for Make May Matter will be very difficult to use because of social distancing, lockdown and being unable to meet with friends and neighbours.
We have decided to offer you a different way of gathering funds for AFIA, which is most appropriate to the situation we find ourselves in at the moment.
Last year the CHURN benefice was urged to make ‘thank you’ cards for key workers, NHS workers and anyone that did essential work to keep things moving. This could be shop workers, Doctors, nurses, surgeries, bin men, or good neighbours helping those that can’t get out and about.
The Rev. Louise Butler put a notice in our parish magazine and on our church website that said this:
PLEASE SPONSOR US
to make and send 100 cards in May
to those who have been affected by the pandemic
and those we want to thank for giving their help during this crisis.
It was suggested that people ‘sponsor’ a local hero or someone they knew that had gone above and beyond the call of duty.
We suggest donations of £5 or £10 (or more!) along with the name and address of the person to be sponsored. Cash or cheque was given in a sealed envelope to Rev. Louise and cards duly sent out from the MU thanking the recipient sponsored. This was not to be targeted at only MU Members, but the whole of the community of our 7 villages. The MU had another part to play. MU members would be supplying the stamps, making, and writing cards and posting them.
Crafty MU members were encouraged to make cards to send to the sponsored heros’, and were given a list of names and addresses to write to and post. For those who could not make cards, the crafters made lots of extras to be distributed to other members, so that people only had a small number of cards to write and post. Our target was 100, but we easily managed that and the sponsorship raised a huge £700 for AFIA. The cards had a message written to the sponsored person and was sent from the Churn MU. The MU logo was put on the back of the card.
Do you think you could do this for our AFIA charity? Do you have some crafty members who can make cards to be distributed to other members for posting and writing? We still have people who need our AFIA breaks and this can happen as soon as things get back to normal, but we have to be able to fund the holiday breaks.
Please give this some consideration and think about how you can help. Please click on the links below for a step by step guide and craft resource.
Rosie Jackson Kilham.
Fundraising & Communications Unit
Thank you so much for all the help from members who knitted chicks for the children who are clients of Children Heard and Seen. I’ve delivered them to their office near Cumnor, which is in a wonderful country setting.
Some members said they’d enjoyed making the chicks so I suggest that you can use the pattern to make some for your own church, you could either sell them or ask for donations. Click the link below to download a sheet of labels, please either use these or in some way make sure you say they aren’t toys. Also, do check that safe stuffing is used in the head and the beaks are sewn on securely if you use felt.
I do hope you’ll be able to use this idea to make a little money for your own branch or maybe for the Project Account for future needs.
Action and Outreach
On 18th February, I took part a in Mary Sumner House virtual training session, Preparing for future meetings; the first of four led by Marion Pope. Participants were from across the UK and were encouraged to pass on the discussion points. In groups of eight we had a short session to introduce ourselves then had two longer sessions for discussion.
Preparing for future meetings: These are the main points from the four discussion groups.
What are the challenges you see?
Managing the future when there are unknowns, risk assessments. Government restrictions – sanitize space, maximum number allowed together, social distancing, masks/face covering. The confidence of members after such a long time in lockdown; members may still be shielding; should the branch hold a mixture of day/evening meetings? How will the branch organise transporting members who need a lift?
How do we encourage our MU members to engage fully in 2021?
Continue to communicate with all members: telephone chains, printed information, email, virtual/zoom meetings. Arrange several meetings with smaller numbers; organise a local prayer walk or a walk to socialise which could be sponsored to raise funds for an MU charity. Put MU branch information into the parish magazine/ pew leaflet to inform the members and wider community. Suggest members bring their own drink/snack.
What might future meetings look like?
Meet in church instead of a smaller meeting room. Thanksgiving service; meet in an outside venue e.g. a sports club golf, cricket, large garden, for a catch up with social distancing; continue zoom meetings if there is a demand; consult with members and act upon suggestions from your members.
When restrictions are eased, invite MU members who have no access to virtual/ zoom sessions to take part in one with the guidance of another experienced member.
If any Oxford Diocese MU members would like to take part in a similar discussion, I will arrange a virtual session. Best wishes to you all planning for your future meetings.
Valerie Bolan Trustee AVP for West Berkshire