This is the story of V, a survivor of modern day trafficking, who is currently being supported by BCHA’s Liberty team, which helps individuals who are victims of human trafficking and modern day slavery. As well as providing a safe place to stay, BCHA’s friendly team supports people, according to their needs, with financial and legal advice, healthcare, counselling and educational opportunities.
V endured being trafficked for just over three months, before his case was taken on by social services as there were concerns around his child’s safety, due to him being threatened by his traffickers. However, social services are no longer involved as the risk has been removed.
From the start, BCHA put in place a support package, tailored to V’s needs (he is deaf). This includes a support worker, deaf Eastern European and English interpreters and BCHA staff who have worked with V to help him make the most of any opportunities presented to him. For example, V has been volunteering at a community garden project run by BCHA.
The Liberty team has ensured that V’s flat has been made deaf friendly, with flashing smoke detectors in each room, a doorbell with a flashing monitor and a vibrating alarm under his pillow. They also facilitated a free prescription certificate for V and access for him and his family to a GP. V and his partner/child have received medical support, including new hearing aids, COVID-19 vaccinations, essential juvenile immunisations (for his child) and paediatric development advice from the health visitor and Home-Start UK.
Prior to being trafficked, V was living in Eastern Europe with his partner. He came to this country to earn an honest living, so that he could look after his partner who was expecting a child.
“I arrived in the UK in 2019 from Eastern Europe. I was given a flat to live in and a job at a car wash. I had to pay rent on the flat, so I needed to work. A person gave me a job at a car wash, where I worked for three months. When I was given the job I was told that I will not get paid the same amount as everyone else, because I was an apprentice. For the first two weeks, I worked from 9am to 5pm. Then I was told to work from 7am to 8pm. I worked 18 to 20 days in a row without days off.
“When my partner came to live with me. They said that I would now have to pay for her to live with me and they asked for £600 rent per month. I could not afford this so I decided to hide her in the flat if they came for any rent.
“Eventually, in January 2021, I decided that I could not carry on working for this car wash and went to another one. They paid much better money and did not make me work long hours without days off.
“Whilst I was working at this new car wash. The people that employed me at the original car wash, visited my new work place and threatened me, saying that I am not allowed to work elsewhere. I am only allowed to work for them. They punched me in the head at one point. But I stood my ground and refused to go back with them to the original car wash job.”
A world away from the car wash, thanks to BCHA, V is enjoying a new life of freedom, free of fear, which has enabled him to develop a range of creative, communication and social skills. He has become part of a volunteer group and during this time staff have seen a significant improvement in his hearing and speech. He is also extremely popular and is well known for going above and beyond for what is needed, to help anyone out with their problems.
V has been given a bike for travel, which he maintains himself and uses to commute to where he works as an active volunteer for BCHA, helping with a community garden project, which he thoroughly enjoys. He has played a major role in redesigning the outdoor space at the project and would eventually like to become a landscape gardener.
He enjoys making things and has a wide range of skills, ranging from laying patio slabs and creating furniture from old pallets, to planting and potting herbs, plants and vegetables. In addition, he has been supporting our removals and clearance driver, which in turn involves meeting new people from our services.
Once V has been granted his pre-settlement status, BCHA will support him to find a job.
“I am waiting to be granted pre-settlement status by the Home Office, so I can work in the UK. Then after five years in this country I will apply for full settlement. I want to contribute to society and to give something back. I am very happy and grateful to everyone who has helped me and my family. I am looking forward to finding a place for us to call our own and to settling into our local community.”
If you suspect that you or someone you have come into contact with, could be a victim of modern slavery and are in need help, please call The Salvation Army’s 24/7 confidential referral helpline on 0800 808 3733.
If you believe that someone is in immediate danger, then call 999.