A CHURCH in Lincoln has helped six people to escape from
contemporary slavery in the past few months, as part of its project
working with the homeless and marginalised.
The Revd Jeremy Cullimore, who runs the Be-Attitude project in
St Mary-le-Wigford, in central Lincoln, says that slave gangs are
active in Lincolnshire, where migrant workers are employed in
farms, and food-processing and packaging factories. Not all those
he has helped out of slavery are overseas migrants, he says. Some
Three women were freed last week from a house in Lambeth, where
they allege that they were held as slaves for 30 years by a couple
with former Maoists links. The three women have been identified by
the Metropolitan Police as a 30-year-old Briton, a 57-year-old
Irish woman, and a 69-year-old Malaysian.
Mr Cullimore said that, while he was appalled at the case in
London, he was not surprised. "We have given sanctuary to six
people who have escaped from modern-day slavery in the last 12
months," he said. "Many of those who come to us are migrant workers
who are induced into signing up with agencies in their own
countries, in the belief that they are headed for a wonderful life
and good job opportunities.
"They arrive saddled with a debt incurred through various
'fees', and, of course, their travel costs. Their passports are
taken as 'security' for their debt, and while they are given all
sorts of menial work, the costs of their very sub-standard
accommodation, and travel, mean that they remain in debt, and are
threatened that, if they misbehave, they will be taken away by the
authorities and sent home.
"In one extreme case, a young man was 'sold on' to a criminal
gang and forcibly given heroin to ensure they had complete control
of him. One of his many jobs for them was to drive the lorry when
they stole lead from church roofs. He escaped to us; but was in a
dreadful state, and tried to commit suicide by jumping off the roof
while in hospital. He is now a paraplegic, but we continue to
Mr Cullimore, who works with paid staff and volunteers, reopened
the closed church of St Mary-le-Wigford in 2008 to run the project,
which helps about 175 people a week. It is open to everyone, and
offers breakfasts and evening meals as well as advice. He has faced
violence and threats from customers and gangmasters for his work in
helping people escape.
The Home Office minister James Brokenshire said this week that
he expects the number of reported cases involving domestic slaves
to continue to increase.
A new index of global slavery has been published, estimating how
many people live in slavery in each country today. It estimates
that up to 4600 people are enslaved in the UK. In Mauritania, up to
160,000 people are said to be in slavery; in Haiti, there are up to
220,000. The index has been produced by the Walk Free