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For the past few years in the lead up to Christmas we have had the privilege of running a heart-warming and exciting initiative – mobilising those around us to gather gift bags for survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery. These gifts have gone to survivors supported by some incredible frontline organisations both in safe houses and locally in the community.

2020 has hit us all hard but we made the decision to run the initiative nonetheless this year because this global pandemic has hit even harder those who have been oppressed and marginalised, whose traumas and often continued uncertain realities are exacerbated in this unsettling climate. And we have been completely blown away by the response.

ASIOX team members coordinated the resourcing and preparation of 221 gift bags for men and women, which were delivered to Unseen in Bristol, Thames Valley Partnership Victims First Specialist Service and BAWSO human trafficking outreach team in Cardiff in early December.

We were blown away by the generosity of the public and the way that people engaged their friends, family and colleagues to put together beautiful gift bags; each bag contained 4-6 gifts and included things like nice toiletries, chocolates, board games and notebooks. We have been told that for survivors receiving a gift from a total stranger is the most powerful gift of love and friendship – two things often severely lacking from their lives.

Here is one of the comments from a caseworker at Unseen:

ASIOX is a passionate supporter of the anti-slavery movement, and has been a massive advocate for Unseen’s work. For several years now, its members have generously supplied beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts for the survivors in our services. They’ve had a huge impact. These gifts are often the only ones survivors will receive – sometimes their first gift ever. Survivors have told us that to receive a present from a total stranger means the world to them, and shows them they are valued and loved. So a huge thank you from Unseen for giving survivors hope and love at such an important time. - Unseen

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