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Unseen Christmas – Grace’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 Grace, the inspiration behind one of our paper chain designs. Illustration by David Doran.

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Living in Africa, Grace experienced the horrors of an uprising and witnessed her husband and child being shot and killed in front of her. To make ends meet she collected bottles on the street. Desperate, she accepted a promise of a better life in the UK from someone she thought of as a family friend. But when she got here, Grace was locked in a house and raped daily. She had no passport and couldn’t speak English. Her trafficker profited from selling her for sex. But one day her trafficker didn’t lock the door properly and she escaped.

Found by the police, Grace was brought to Unseen’s 24-hour safe-house, set up specifically for survivors of human trafficking. Her trauma had left her physically scarred together with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and extreme anxiety. But, with Unseen’s help she received professional healthcare and psychological support, one-to-one sessions with specialist staff and access to education and legal advice.

OUTCOME: Grace has now left the safe-house and joined Unseen’s resettlement service, which will continue to support her until she’s able to re-establish her life – independent and free from exploitation. She’s learning english, attending regular courses and is now volunteering in the community, working with other vulnerable women.

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 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.