Street orphan and rescued trafficking victim’s disbelief at being found a home

A survivor of modern slavery has his own place to live for the first time, after spending most of his life fending for himself on the streets and then trapped in the house of a human trafficker.

As a child, David* was forced to steal food to survive after he and his siblings were orphaned. He was brought to the UK from his home in Eastern Europe under false pretences and coerced into forced labour for more than six years.

Now David, in his late 20s, has his own home following the intervention of trained lawyers and case workers at global anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice.

“David had been street homeless and was living with traffickers for several years”, a member of our Advocacy team said. “He was in absolute shock when he was given his own place to live. He could not believe that he had a front door to open, let alone a home to go to.

“He kept pressing the doorbell, crossing the threshold, and then going back outside so that he could come in and press the doorbell again. He just could not believe that he was even worthy of a house.”

As a teenager, David was able to find just enough unskilled work in his home city to survive. But when the opportunity to move to the UK presented itself, with the promise of transport, food, and employment when he arrived, David accepted.

However, as soon as he arrived, he was told he would have to cover the cost of his travel. His identification documents were taken from him. His future was in the hands of a man he barely knew.

David was told he would be working at a waste and recycling firm to pay back his ‘debt’. The trafficker kept using this as a reason to keep almost everything David earned from his work. He was trapped in this situation for more than five years.

After his rescue, Hope for Justice’s teams spent a year fighting on David’s behalf. “Without his ID, David was unable to prove who he was”, our Independent Modern Slavery Advocate said. “Without proof of identity, HMRC records, medical records and employment history, he could not easily apply for welfare benefits, universal credit, or housing, and could not prove his entitlement for support.

“The system was failing him.”

Our professionals attended multiple meetings with the local authority, appointments with housing associations and solicitors, and provided the necessary support to enable him to secure new identity documents. These were crucial steps in enabling David to break free from the yoke of oppression that he had been under.

*Name changed to protect the identity of a victim of modern slavery