Modern day slaves for sale at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

published on 25 May 2016

Gardening enthusiasts visiting the RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s fringe festival will see people bought and sold in a dramatic representation of the real life stories of victims of modern slavery.   


On Thursday (May 26), people will be offered for sale to passing members of the public, with their stories based on real life examples of survivors of modern slavery supported by The Salvation Army. It will form part of an awareness-raising campaign around a Modern Slavery Garden which scooped gold at the show earlier this week. The “slave sale” will take place on Pimlico’s Orange Square (SW1W 8LP) which will be transformed into “Freedom Street” for the week.

Designer Juliet Sargeant took gold with the garden which celebrates the day parliament passed The Modern Slavery Act in 2015. Her garden features several doors and an oak – representing captivity and the fact people’s exploitation is hidden behind closeddoors, as well as the Kent-based tree William Wilberfore sat beneath when he vowed to help end the slave trade. Oak saplings in the garden represent the work going on to support victims of modern slavery by organisations such as The Salvation Army. Survivors of human trafficking from a safehouse on the South coast run by Salvation Army partner, the Medaille Trust, had the opportunity to nurture the oak saplings for the Modern Slavery Garden on an allotment they use as part of their recuperation and recovery from their experiences of exploitation.

Information will also be given to passers by on how to spot the signs that someone has been trafficked and what they can do to help.

The Salvation Army was appointed by the Government in July 2011 to provide support services to adult victims of modern slavery and human trafficking in England and Wales. Since then The Salvation Army and its partners have supported more than 4,000 victims of modern slavery to help these vulnerable people set out along the long path to recovering from these horrendous crimes.

Major Anne Read, The Salvation Army’s Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery, said: “The Modern Slavery Garden has been an absolutely fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about these heinous crimes. We want people to realise that modern slavery is taking place all around us, in our streets, and near our homes. Everyone can play a part in stamping it out and helping those in desperate need. We are delighted to support the Modern Slavery Garden and through interacting with people at Freedom Street to build on their efforts to raise awareness about the signs of trafficking and modern slavery and what members of the public can do to help.”

On sale will be the following individuals whose stories are based on people who have been helped by The Salvation Army:
· 35-year-old Nick* from the UK who, homeless having lost his job in the economic downturn, was exploited to provide cheap labour and held against his will.
· 60-year-old Tomas* from the Czech Republic who came to England when his wife died with an offer of work which turned out to be exploitation in factories and farms.
· 23-year-old Joy* from Nigeria whose job as a hairdresser was actually enforced prostitution with threats against herself and her family if she didn’t comply.
· 20-year-old Dianne* from Romania trafficked to be sexually exploited when she was tricked into accepting what she thought was a good job in a shop to help support her parents.
· 35-year-old Belvie* from the Democratic Republic of Congo who was beaten, chained and forced to work long hours in domestic servitude.

*Names and details changed to protect identities but based on real stories.

· The ‘slave sales’ are scheduled to take place at: 8.30am until 9am, 10am to 10.30am and 12noon to 12.30pm on Thursday (May 26).