A Daring Escape – A Survivor of Modern Slavery’s Story

With injuries to his mouth and head he took his chance to escape through a door, jumping through a gap in handrails from the fourth to the second floor.

Growing up in a broken family in Latvia, life took a wrong turn for Josef when he got in with the wrong crowd. Poor choices and pressure to drink as a teenager led to further breakdown in family relationships and Josef found himself homeless.  After 4 months sleeping on the streets he was approached with an offer of well-paid work in the UK. Desperate and unable to see hope for a future in Latvia he jumped at the opportunity, unaware of what was to lie ahead.

Arriving in the UK Josef was charged by the driver for his travel and was taken to his accommodation in the back of a van with no seats and windows blacked out so he couldn’t see where he was. His room was mouldy and cramped and he was denied contact with family. The reality of the well paid job was putting charity bags through letter boxes, 14 hours per day for 6 days per week with payment of £20 per week. He was transported to work with other victims in a blacked out van so they remained unaware of their location. Pressured to drink alcohol and totally dependent on the traffickers for housing, food, and travel to work he was trapped.

One day his trafficker pulled Josef into an office accusing him of not working hard enough. They became aggressive, he was threatened and assaulted and asked to hand over his passport. With injuries to his mouth and head he took his chance to escape through a door, jumping through a gap in handrails from the fourth to the second floor.

Josef was helped by police and referred into support through a charity whilst his case was assessed. Confirmed as a victim of human trafficking he was referred to Jericho needing employment and stability.

Josef began working in one of our social enterprises and became a valued member of staff. We were able to support him into secure housing and to access health care, as well as referrals into specialist immigration advice and legal advocacy. Josef was able to progress from Jericho into mainstream employment in the recycling sector. The impact of his past is still evident, and he has dreams of returning home one day, but the support we offer has helped him begin to find stability in a new city and start to see hope for a better future.

Apprentice Quotes

  • I spent 3 years looking for work and I started to give up hope. Thanks to Jericho for helping me to gain work and helping me complete my goal of doing an apprenticeship. Your help means more to me than you will ever know
  • My mental health has improved and with support from the Jericho team I am now more confident in myself and my abilities. I understand that even on a bad day I have support and help available to me and that as a whole I like myself more too
  • This is the first job that I have had when I haven’t woken up with a knot in my stomach and a feeling of dread at having to go in again
  • They’re very supportive; from day one they make you feel welcome
  • There are loads of trusted people here who I feel confident in talking too; I know if there is a problem they will solve it to the best of their ability
  • I’m so proud of myself for the first time in my life. I can do anything when I put my mind to it
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