Museum gives human trafficking survivors powerful voice in fight against modern slavery

Survivors of human trafficking say they are being given a powerful voice thanks to a new exhibition in Liverpool.

60 women from across the country have come together to hand-stitch a giant quilt, sparking a conversation about modern slavery.

It has gone on display at the International Slavery Museum at the Royal Albert Dock.

One of the survivors, Cilla, told me it is important that people understand modern slavery.

She said: "Someone could be from London and be trafficked to Manchester and be forced to work for nothing, abused and treated really badly.

"When you say slavery, people don't think of those things - but it does happen at our own doorstep.

"I feel like this was a great opportunity for us to voice that out and say, listen, look, this does exist."

The quilt is colourful and diverse and comes with a powerful message. Credit: Sophie Hayes Foundation

Each of the 247 squares represents the survivors' past and future hopes and dreams and has been stitched together to form three distinctive regional quilts from London, Birmingham, and Manchester and the north.

They are all participants or graduates of a scheme which aims to get them the skills to get into work as they rebuild their lives.

It was organised by the Sophie Hayes Foundation which helps survivors on their journey to independence.

Chief executive Red Godfrey-Sagoo said: "For ten years, Sophie Hayes Foundation has helped women survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking in their fight for sustainable freedom and to be visible in a world where they are invisible.

"The Freedom Quilt is their voice. Only by spreading this information can we raise awareness to the suffering that modern day slavery and human trafficking brings and help women create a new future of sustainable freedom."     

60 women worked on individual ideas for the project. Credit: Sophie Hayes Foundation

The quilt uses almost 21,756 square inches of fabrics, creating a total surface area of almost 14.9 square yards.

The charity said the piecing together of the squares embodies a poignant message of strength and unity.  

Paul Reid, Head of the International Slavery Museum, added: "The Freedom Quilt is an incredible representation of liberation and hope.

"Each square within the quilt represents a very particular and personal story of overcoming struggle and looking ahead to a brighter future.

"The sheer scale of the quilt also acts as a powerful reminder of the scourge of modern slavery – the devastating effects of which are often hidden in plain sight.”  

The Sophie Hayes Foundation is aiming to raise £120,000 through Freedom Quilt donations to coach and educate for survivors of modern slavery.