Jacky's Story

I heard about Hestia through my church, in London. Through the church, I did a short course to educate myself about modern slavery and county lines and learned about the charity that way.

I’m a trained textile designer and I also paint, draw and design. For the past year and a half I’ve been working on the refurbishment of another local church. So when the opportunity so support Hestia came along through art, I wanted to do it.

I really didn’t know what to expect at first. During the earlier sessions, the atmosphere was tentative. The participants didn’t know each other and had all come from difficult situations. Then something changed - over time, trust had been built and bonds were being formed. One of the service users said to me ‘This course, being here, I’m finally beginning to feel like I’m meeting my people.’ He’s been in the UK for 10 years.

On a practical level, I’ve not taught many art workshops before and it was really beneficial learning how to pitch an activity to a group that I didn’t know, and think of group work that would be of interest to them. However, I’ve also learned  how important it is that people are occupied. In theory, you may have a roof over your head and just enough to get by. However, if you don’t have structure or a routine to your day, you don't feel like you’re an active part of our society – that puts people in physical and emotional limbo. Put people in an environment where they are encouraged, or the right environment for them and they will flourish. As a volunteer, it was a pleasure to use just 2 hours a week to help make this happen.

My friend M, who is also a professional artist and photographer, worked alongside me to deliver the workshops. We’d never worked together before and it was so interesting to see how different our approaches were. In some ways, we have very different personalities and the relationships we had with service users were completely different and that was really valuable.

I’ll definitely continue to work with Hestia again in the future. I’m already reaching out to people in the wider community who can help contribute to ongoing creative sessions at the London Hub.

Check out more of Jacky's work here.

Read more about the Art Is Freedom exhibition here.

About Hestia’s Modern Slavery Response Team

Hestia supports over 2,200 adult victims of modern slavery and 1,200 dependent children each year through emotional and practical support.

We work with survivors both through pan-London outreach support and through safe house accommodation across London and the south east.

Hestia’s volunteer-led Phoenix Project also provides long-term support to survivors of modern slavery as they integrate into the community and begin to move towards a life beyond crisis.

We also campaign and advocate nationally on the issues that affect victims and survivors of modern slavery. Our Underground Lives series explores issues faced by specific groups of survivors, such as pregnant women, children of survivors and victims of criminal exploitation.