It is sometimes difficult to understand how people become victims of modern day slavery. Jakub (not his real name) comes to church. Julie recently spoke to him through an interpreter, and here he tells his story for us.
I am a Polish man and in early December 2015 I was looking for a job on the internet and through that I met someone who said he was from a transport company and he said he could get me a job. I sent my CV and the man contacted me.
He offered me some attractive benefits: rent free accommodation, not necessary to speak English, free transport to the UK leaving straight away.
I met the man along with a few other Poles in my regional town and altogether we flew to a major city in the UK. When we arrived we were picked up by cars and taken to a town on the edge of the city. I was taken to a house where there were already a number of Poles living, whilst the others were taken elsewhere.
The recruiter took charge of organising a bank account and National Insurance number on the grounds that I spoke no English. I didn’t have any contact with my bank account, even the card.
We workers were sent to a sandwich factory and in the house were managed by two ‘gypsy’ people. Having been promised free transport to the UK the ‘gypsies’ said we had to pay for it and it would be 50% of my wages and they only gave me £20; I had no idea of how much my wages were.
After one week the ‘gypsies’ moved us all to another house, where there were another 3 Polish people who had criminal records in Poland. Their job was to keep check on the other workers. It was very difficult: these “supervisors” listened to music all night, fought with each other and drank all the time, they were very aggressive and almost killed one young woman whom they hit on the head.
They used my bank account to get credit cards and they kept trying to get my passport, but I kept it round my neck all the time. They tried to break into my room and I had to protect the door with heavy furniture, in the hope of getting any sleep at night. It was terrible. One night I went to ask the homeless people in the city where I could get help. They told me to come early next morning and a young Polish woman would help me, so I did and she took me to the Salvation Army. They sent me to this city and the charity which is helping me. Now there are two solicitors and an interpreter working with me and an investigation is going on.
My plan on coming to the UK was to make money to help my daughter at home get a good education and be able to get a good job, but it didn’t work that way. It was the worst Christmas and New Year I have ever spent.
Still I hope now to be able to get a job and a flat and build a life for myself.
We are very grateful to ‘Jakub’ for sharing his story with us.