Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Twitter, Trafficking and Ecover

Last night Catherine (aka Bella & Will) and I went to ‘Fashioned For Freedom’ by House of Beth, which was held in the very impressive St.Mary’s Church, London. The evening was organised to raise awareness and funds to support survivors of human trafficking.

12 days ago I didn't even know Catherine, or that this event was taking place.

So back track a bit as to how this came about.


Yep. Twitter

Since setting up this project, Twitter has been the main social platform I've been using and has brought so many of us like-minded people together (25 at the last count but I need to check that!).

So, here’s what happened. 

I spotted a tweet by EcoverUK saying ‘who’d like some tickets for this event’ and I thought – oh yes I would. So I tweeted them about this project. And lucky lucky I won! (thank you!)

I then thought, ‘I'd like to go with someone who has joined up to this project with me’, and that’s where Catherine comes in. We can’t even remember how we first got connected, but think it was via Jen and her 'make do and mend year'', discovering a joint admiration of John-Paul Flintoff and both being scanners (see John Williams here about that) meant we quickly became ‘twitter friends.’  

So when I asked if anyone would like to come with me and Catherine was able to come, it was really exciting!

I know this isn't about the actual event – just yet – but it’s all part of the story. And I like a story. I like to know how things come about and ‘happen.’

So all sorted and off I went on the train from Bristol to London yesterday afternoon. Was a breeze actually. Straight into Paddington (train was pretty empty) on the circle line to Edgeware Road, then walked to the venue. Have to admit to using the gps on my phone to get there mind...

Met Catherine there and in we went! (Catherine also used the gps on her phone to find it, so that made me feel ok!)

Catherine and I in front of one of the Art installations at the event
There were lots of groovy sorts about looking fashionable, but I reckon we looked just as good. (I was wearing a charity shop purchase skirt (jigsaw) and Catherine was wearing a beautiful skirt she’d made.  I was very impressed. And what was also lovely about her skirt was the fact the fabric had belonged to her nana. So a story with it to. I like that.

The event wasn't quite what I’d expected – but that didn't stop us having a great time. I didn't actually take that many photos as well, umm we were chatting so much.  I’d had this idea it was going to be a fashion ‘show’, with a catwalk and models etc. 

In actual fact there were some speakers (Head of Marketing for Ecover being one of them – hence tickets and their involvement), music by digital animals, a film about human trafficking - what happens when fashion and that world collide – followed by an auction of the dresses shown in the film as well as rails of pre-loved clothes for sale. 

Talia Chain and Sarah Kendal, House of Beth founders
We both bought something from those rails and even ended up being in a ‘film’, although have no idea when we’ll see that! Random.

Have to confess to not staying for the auction. We popped off to the pub.  (Hope that doesn't appear disrespectful).

There was a very serious message being shared through this event. I don’t want to get too heavy about it – but at the same time don’t want to gloss over it and ignore what is going on – and also what’s being done to challenge it – and ultimately change it.

It’s shocking and to be honest I have trouble accepting that this kind of thing is actually happening today. And in the UK. It’s not just something that happens ‘over there in another country,’ once I have some ‘UK facts’ I’ll share them. 

Apparently it is hard to quantify figures of those 'enslaved' world wide, but according to the charity ‘Free the Slaves’ they estimate it to be around 27 million.

That is a lot of people.

Just under half of the UK population*   

I’d thought that was a thing of the past and ‘slavery’ had been abolished in the UK by William Wilberforce in 1833. (Yes, Bristol is built on the slave trade. The fascinating and harrowing stories that you can read about in the newly opened M shed in Bristol, is really well worth a visit).

And ‘Trafficking’ isn't just about ‘sexual’ trafficking – there are many types including domestic, labour and serfdom. (I had to look up what that meant. A condition of modified slavery – wiki link)

And cheap clothes are part of this.  Well I guess cheap goods are in general?

Now, I don’t know enough about it all yet and I’m not an expert, but that’s also partly the point of this project. To find out more and ask those kinds of questions.  And also hunt out the small companies and brands that are doing good things – as there are many. (For when I’ll be buying new again. Although who knows after a year..)

One of the ladies who’s joined up said jokingly she wanted to join ‘the revolution’. And I thought – ooh I like that. We are all doing something ‘different’ by committing to this project and being more considered about what we wear.

Powerful stuff really.

(hope I’m not getting too carried away and you’re still with me?!)

Creating a better world – one stitch at a time...(??!!)

This isn't about taking the fun out of it all – but seeing that the event was all about this – I felt it was important to write about it.

Who are House of Beth? 

House of Beth is a social enterprise, set up earlier this year by Talia Chain and Sarah Kendal, two very inspiring ladies, who both work for human trafficking charities.  (Talia founded The Red Light Campaign).  The aim is to offer financial support to the survivors by selling pre-loved designer clothes, with 50% from any clothing item being donated to fighting Human Trafficking. They also sell on behalf of two ethical jewellery designers - Jennifer Sturrock and Justine Silverstone.

You can buy pre-loved items from House of Beth online here

And thank you to Ecover UK for the tickets, fabric bag and samples ;-)

Tell me, what are your thoughts on this?  
And are there any books/websites you’d recommend I read?  

(*UK population 62.6 million - ONS 2011 census).


  1. Thought provoking stuff!
    Yep, I think there is something quite revolutionary about not buying clothes & making your own.
    I recommend reading Lucy Siegle's "To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?" for the shocking lowdown on the atrocities committed in the name of fashion.
    ps/ you & Catherine look gorgeous :-)

  2. Aww thank you! We had such a fun evening. And thank you for those book suggestions. ;-)


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