Forced Labour to Secure Employment

Survivor’s Background:

A family man with 2 young daughters, T worked as a labourer and driver back home in Hungary. 2013 brought unemployment. Struggling to provide for his family, T responded to an online job advert offering well paid work in the UK with flights and accommodation arranged for him. He arrived in the UK August 2013 but found himself with other men sleeping on the floor of an overcrowded and unhygienic house. The men were picked up in vans each morning and taken to work in factories every day for up to 20 hours per day, whilst being paid only around £10 per week. Intimidated and threatened with violence by the traffickers, T ran away with a friend and approached police. With help from national charity Hope for Justice, they were moved to a safe house in Birmingham where they were able to stay for a few weeks before moving into a shared house.

T’s wife and daughters joined him in the UK at the start of 2014 through fear of the traffickers finding them in Hungary. Meanwhile T assisted the police with their investigation and was an important witness in the trial against his trafficker, who in early 2014 was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Despite having leave to remain there were delays with T receiving benefits of any kind and the family were initially denied Local Authority housing. They found themselves in a temporary hostel and struggling to find school places for the 2 girls. When T was referred to Jericho he had begun to receive housing and was in the process of appealing the council’s housing decision. However, his confidence was low, English was basic and he was struggling to provide for even the food needs of his family solely on Job Seekers Allowance.

Progression:

T met with Client Support at Jericho to discuss the possibility of volunteering to gain some UK experience and to develop his English, complementing an ESOL course he had begun.  A placement was arranged within Jericho Construction in June 2014, volunteering as a Labourer.

He was referred to a local food bank to help meet his family’s immediate needs and was included in a meal out arranged for a number of volunteers to develop confidence and to offer the opportunity to speak English in a social environment.

At work, T impressed the Construction manager with his punctuality, dependability and enthusiasm. He worked incredibly hard, always willing to undertake any task asked of him and his confidence developed further as he built up good working relationships with his colleagues, supervisors and manager. After just a few weeks, Jericho were able to offer temporary full time paid work.

From a starting point of forced labour T progressed to leave Jericho to move into longer term paid work, as well as completing his ESOL course.

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