Trafficked & Re-trafficked but now Inspiring Others

Survivor’s Background:

In 2009 S, a 56 year old Hungarian, was working as a builder and bus driver. The recession left him unemployed and homeless, and with a 76 year old mother to support. He was offered work in the UK with the promise of a good wage, transport and accommodation. Little did he know that this was arranged by traffickers and he would find himself forced to live in a small house with 25 other men, working 70 hours per week as a driver for a weekly wage of £10. He escaped with another resident, and they lived in a disused garage for a few months before being found and re-trafficked to Yorkshire where he was sold to another trafficker to do manual work.

He was re-trafficked yet again by Irish Gypsies, working long hours doing building work for only token cash. He was too afraid to leave for fear of becoming homeless again.

S eventually came to the notice of police after a failed suicide attempt in Bradford when he was identified as a victim of human trafficking and moved to a safe house in Birmingham in Spring 2014. However he was initially too afraid to report details of his tracking to the police.

Progression:

With support, S was able to claim housing benefit and job seekers and he progressed to a supported hostel. In this environment he began to feel safer and reported details of his trafficking to the police who have been carrying out investigations.

However, S was only entitled to benefits for 6 months and was referred to Jericho for support with his progression. He was desperate to avoid falling homeless again and anxious to progress towards employment, keen to gain legitimate UK work experience

Jericho were initially able to offer S voluntary work within our Recycling business, working within the warehouse and out on collections. His confidence developed and he showed himself to be an exceptionally hard worker. We were thrilled to later find ourselves in a position to be able to offer him permanent employment within another of our businesses where he is now a highly valued member of the staff team. His English is developing, he can communicate a little with customers and well with staff, although he cannot yet talk on the telephone. He had begun a basic ESOL course but could not afford to continue with it when his benefits stopped.

He is still reluctant to talk about his past and his experiences but has settled in well and makes a great contribution to the business. Comments from his colleagues include:

“We’d be lost without him now.”

“We really notice it when he’s not here.”

The apprentices and younger staff within the team have also related to him well and managers have noticed his confidence developing – rather than keeping himself to himself he is now initiating conversations and is less afraid of interacting directly with customers. He has even brought in fruit to share with other staff. Talking to him about his experiences at Jericho he said “I don’t know what would happen if not working. Maybe homeless, no food, I don’t know. It is a good feeling coming to (the) job.”

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