Gabi came to the UK in 2012 having been promised work. When that dried up, he stayed in the UK in the hopes of finding additional work and not going back home empty handed. This is his story of being subjected to forced labour, in effect modern day slavery.
“A friend helped me to find work and I was picked up the next day at 6am. At the end of the day 12 hours later I was offered £15, take it or leave it. I needed money. I could not get benefits, I was hungry and could not pay my rent.
I felt like I had no choice. After a couple of months, I was evicted and the boss took me in. He generously allowed me to sleep on the back seat of one of the cars at work. Eventually he said I could sleep on the back of a lorry but he began to charge me £30 rent per week. I worked very hard and got paid very little. I had no toilet, nor shower and only cold water from an old garden hose which froze in the winter. What was I supposed to do. I had nowhere to go. I was not allowed to go to the doctor or the dentist. I never left that place and sometimes got locked in for days without food.
One day I got out. I made a run for it not knowing where to go. I knew of a place called Good Shepherd Ministries in Wolverhampton City Centre so I went there. They fed me and gave me food to take away. I told my story to Brother Stephen and Paul Burns who listened intently. They said they would do everything they could and referred me to the Wolverhampton Church Shelter where I stayed for one week. Through the shelter I met a lady called Kate who works for Hope into Action. She argued that they should take a chance on me even though I had no work and no money to pay the rent.
I am now debt free. I have full time work in a factory and still help out at the Good Shepherd when I can. I felt stupid looking back but in reality I was trapped and I did not think I had a choice or way out. There may be many others like me who need to hear that help is out there and that there is hope”.