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Unseen Christmas – Manisha’s Story

For an estimated 13,000 people in the UK, Christmas Day is just another day trapped in the chains of modern slavery, far from home and their loved ones.

Unseen is a charity dedicated to breaking those chains, helping to empower some of society’s most vulnerable people to become independent individuals.

This Christmas, to raise awareness and money we have created four paper chain decorations, each illustration inspired by a personal story of someone affected by slavery.

Today we’re highlighting the story of Manisha, the inspiration behind one of our paper chain designs. Illustration by Tom Jay.

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Born in Africa, Manisha’s mother left her as a baby and her father used to drink.

She was sent to live with her aunt in the UK who had promised to get her into a school and look after her. Her aunt paid for her to come to the UK, but didn’t do anything about getting her into a school. Instead, Manisha spent her days cooking, cleaning and looking after her aunt’s two children, working non-stop from 6am to 1am each day. She was beaten most days and once hit so hard in the head she had to have stitches. One day her aunt tried to drown her in the bath, but luckily Manisha’s screams were heard by neighbours who called the police.

On arriving at Unseen, Manisha received support to access health services and counseling, legal representation, and supported housing, in addition to help in finding a place to worship. She needed emotional support from staff and help with budgeting, accessing welfare benefits, looking for work and attending local education classes.

OUTCOME: She was granted positive conclusive grounds (identified as trafficked) and resettled in supported housing in the UK.

NB: The victim’s name and some details have been changed to protect her identity

The Unseen paper chains (3ft in length when put together) are available to buy exclusively here – with all monies raised going to Unseen. You can also donate to the charity and download the designs. Once you’ve bought or downloaded yours, share your support with the hashtag #UnseenChristmas. We’ll also be sharing more of the stories that inspired the designs on our blog in the run up to Christmas so stay tuned.

Please join us in our goal to reach 13,000 links in the chain – by purchasing, downloading or sharing – to represent the 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK today.