Woman having a tattoo Woman having a tattoo

Tattooists Against Traffickers

In 2021, our CEO Garry Smith gave a TEDX Talk at Bristol University entitled  ”Debranding & Freedom from Modern Slavery”.

He explained how some of the victims of modern slavery are branded with unwanted tattoos. Sometimes this is the name of the exploiter physically etched onto the body of the victim.

These unwanted tattoos serve as a prominent physical reminder of the trauma they have lived through. For our clients, taking back control of their lives includes taking back control of their bodies.

Garry explained how Medaille has been working with the tattoo community, to offer survivors the chance to reclaim their bodies through the transformation of unwanted tattoos into expressions of hope and freedom.

With the support of talented tattooists who are giving their time, free of cost, we are supporting our clients to reclaim their bodies.

Watch the TedTalk

We are also working within the tattoo community to raise awareness of branding and modern slavery, equipping tattooists with the knowledge to spot the signs of exploitation and raise their concerns should they see them.

This multi-award-winning video, Marked for Life, tells the story of one of our clients who was trafficked and branded.


In June 2021 a client supported by the Moving on Project became the first to take ownership of her unwanted tattoo. The name of her exploiter was tattooed prominently across her hand. Working with tattoo artist Talen Stalley from Terry’s Tattoos in Bishops Stortford, who gave his time for free, she chose a beautiful butterfly design.

Speaking after her tattoo had been transformed, she said: 

“You don’t understand what this means to me,
it is freedom”

Tattooist Natalie from Lost Garden Tattoos transformed the name branded onto the arm of a client living in on of safe houses into a beautiful feather.

Our client told us that she had been wearing long sleeves or hiding her arm from photos in order to avoid questions about who the tattoo referred to.

She is delighted with the new design, which gives her the freedom to be herself and not hide anymore.