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People-trafficking case studies

03 August 2018


Drita is a 41-year-old Albanian woman. She came to the UK after escaping abusive situations with men in Albania, only to find herself forced into prostitution here

DRITA lived in Albania with her daughter and an abusive husband. One night, at a party, Drita met a man who was kind to her. Over time, they became close. Drita confided in him about her life at home, and they began a relationship.

One day, the man took her to his flat, and promised that he would look after her. When Drita tried to leave, he stopped her leaving by keeping her intoxicated with alcohol and drugs. He then began to bring other men to sleep with her. When sober, she told the man, whom she had previously considered to be her boyfriend, that she did not want to do this. He said that he would kill her daughter if she did not have sex with the men.

Drita felt that what she was doing had brought terrible shame on her, and was sure that her family would disown her if they knew. After some time, she met someone she thought would help her.

That person promised her a good job in the UK, and made travel arrangements for her. When Drita arrived in the UK, however, she was immediately taken to a house where there were other women living, and was told that she would be expected to have sex with men again. Devastated, she at first refused, but was beaten and not fed for days, and was even burnt with a cigarette.

Four months later, Drita managed to escape, by taking the key from the housekeeper when she was asleep. She kept running to get as far away as possible — through fields, over bridges, and catching bus after bus with the small amount of change that she had managed to keep from tips. Eventually, someone saw her in distress on the streets, and sought help for her. Drita was referred to the Salvation Army for specialist support, and taken to a safe house.

There, Drita was given emotional, financial, and legal support. With the help of her support worker, she made an asylum claim, and spoke to the police about her traffickers. She says that the counselling helped her to deal with what happened. She attends English for Speakers of other Languages (ESOL) classes to gain more independence, and was given help to get clothes from a charity shop, and to register with a GP and dentist to ensure that she receives the medical support she needs.

Drita now sees some light at the end of the tunnel, even though, at times, she is still scared about her future. She wants to study nursing after completing ESOL at college, and plans to make something good out of her life. She has had no contact with her family in Albania.

*All names have been changed, and photos are of stock images

Kacper, in his early twenties, is from Poland. He was trafficked by other Polish men who promised to find him well-paid work in the UK, but then forced him into slave labour under threat of violence

KACPER lived with his family in Poland. Owing to social and economic problems in his home city, he planned to move to the UK to earn more money for himself and his family.

In 2013, Kacper met some men who promised to find him well-paid work in the UK. They arranged to bring him over to the UK by coach.

When he finally arrived, Kacper found that he was being forced to work in multiple places, including car washes. He was moved from place to place; his working conditions were poor; and he was never paid for the work he did.

When Kappa spoke to his traffickers about how badly he was being treated, they threatened violence not only against him, but also against his family, claiming that they knew his home address in Poland, and that they would go there and hurt his relatives.

They also showed him a collection of weapons that they said they would use on anyone who went against them.

This continued for about eight months, after which, despite being exhausted and fearful, Kacper eventually found the courage to run away. He sought help, and was referred to the Salvation Army, where he received support and accommodation in a safe house for several months.

When Kacper arrived at the safe house, he had few belongings, as he had had to flee his traffickers quickly. Staff provided him with clothing and footwear, and arranged his entitlement to financial allowance. He was offered counselling, as he often spoke of feeling depressed because of the experience that he had been through.

Support workers also helped Kacper recover some of his ID papers, as all his documents had been lost or taken away, and talked with him about what he wanted to do next. He planned to return to Poland to be with his mother; so they helped him to obtain a temporary passport so that he could travel home.

Kacper’s long-term plan is to return to the UK for proper work one day in the future. To help him make informed choices, staff helped him to understand all the important aspects of working in the UK, such as applying for a job, agreeing a contract with an employer, national insurance, and tax, and they explained his rights.

While in the UK, Kacper remained too scared of the traffickers to speak to the police about his case. His traffickers could still be at large.


When Ebo became orphaned, a family friend sent him to work for various families as a domestic servant. He eventually ended up imprisoned as a servant in London

EBO was born in a small village in Nigeria, where he had minimal primary schooling. He has no memory of his mother. His father raised him and his younger sister until Ebo was 12 years old, when his father was then killed.

Ebo went to live with his mother’s friend, who sent him to another family to work as a house help. He would clean and sweep, and was beaten if he did not work hard or fast enough. Periodically, Ebo was brought back to his mother’s friend, who would send him to another boss.

At the age of about 15, Ebo was told that a man would take him to Lagos. He did not want to go, but was told he had no choice (there would be no food for him or his sister if he did not go). Once in Lagos, Ebo was given to a woman, who told him that she wanted to take him to the UK to work for her. He agreed to go, after he was once more beaten and his sister threatened.

Ebo flew to London with the woman, and lived with her family. He was kept indoors, made to sleep in the corridor with just a duvet, and, although now 16, he was not allowed to attend school. Instead, he was forced to clean the house and care for the children. He was badly punished if he tried to escape.

This continued for six years, until, one day, Ebo managed to escape by climbing through an unlocked kitchen window. With a few pounds that he had found when washing the family’s clothes, Ebo ran to a shop for help. They sold him a ticket, and pointed towards a bus stop.

Over the next few years, Ebo slept rough, or stayed with people he had befriended. He met a woman, and began a relationship with her. They had a daughter together, but, when the relationship ended, Ebo began using drink and drugs as an escape. He was involved with the police on several occasions, and eventually was arrested and given a prison sentence.

After Ebo was served his deportation notice, he was transferred to a detention centre. Here, he explained his story to his solicitor and care co-ordinator and was, at last, recognised as a potential victim of modern slavery.

He was referred to the Salvation Army, and taken to a safe house. Support workers have ensured that he has been linked to appropriate mental-health support, and he is beginning to feel more positive. He has now been recognised as having a learning disability, and staff are sourcing suitable support for this, and are seeking to reconnect him with his daughter.


Tan’s mother sent him to the UK to join his father. But he ended up being enslaved and forced to work on cannabis farms

WHEN Tan was 16, his mother sold the family home to raise £10,000 for him to travel to the UK to join his father, who had left because he could not make ends meet, farming in rural Vietnam.

She had no idea what her son would face when he arrived, after weeks travelling in a lorry across Europe. Tan did not want to upset her; so he did not describe the things that he experienced: the smell of the cannabis which made him ill; the cramped conditions in a flat above a shop somewhere in England; the blacked-out windows and locked doors; the isolation and fear. He was made to work long hours in unbearable heat for no pay, and with only occasional food, brought every couple of days by a man who would leave again and lock the door behind him after just a few minutes.

Tan tried to come to terms with what was happening to him. After several weeks, police raided the flat and took Tan away to live with a foster family. Unable to speak English, and still hoping to be reunited with his father, Tan phoned his traffickers, and they came to take him back.

For the next few years, he did odd jobs for the traffickers, helping to set up cannabis farms around the UK, often sleeping in a van. Then they told him that, because his debt had grown to more than £100,000, he would be required to work as a prostitute to pay it off. He tried to run away, but was beaten and told that his parents would be harmed if he did not comply.

Tan was forced to go from one small hotel to another, sleeping with both men and women, and receiving no more than £100 a month. He lost contact with his mother, and worried constantly that the same exploitation could be happening to his sister. Eventually, when working once more in another cannabis farm, Tan was arrested by the police and sent to a detention centre. Staff realised that he was a victim of modern slavery, and referred him to the Salvation Army.

Tan is now in safe accommodation. He is receiving specialist support, and is finally being helped to learn English, after living in the country for nearly a decade, hidden away and forced to live and work in slave-like conditions.

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