Disclaimer: The blogs on this site are written by our volunteers and guest writers. They do not reflect the views of the WCIA. We hope that sharing a range of views will encourage discussion and debate. Please get in touch if you wish to contribute a blog. Blogs are published in the language the volunteer has chosen to write in (whether that is Welsh or English) and we welcome submissions in both languages.
by Hannah Isaac, work experience placement, Howell’s School
Modern slaves can be hard to spot. Believe it or not many people are unaware that slavery still exists in our modern world. There have been some stories of human trafficking which have made their way into the headlines, however this will focus on a more specific and recent scandal, so we can raise awareness of this problem and learn how we can help stop it.
At the beginning of July 2019, it made the headlines that the UK’s largest modern slavery gang trafficked over 400 victims. The Polish gang cruelly exploited vulnerable people like the homeless, and those who had just come out of prison, in their homeland – bringing them over to the UK. Many people who flee from persecution or war in other countries are then vulnerable and are picked up by traffickers or slave gangs and brought over for illegal labour. Slavery is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”
They were being starved, and when they did eat, their meals came from food banks and food kitchens. For all their toil some were paid 50p per hour, and sometimes their wages were stolen. They were forced to work on farms, rubbish recycling centres and poultry factories and made to live in squalor whilst the gang’s bosses maintained a luxurious lifestyle and made about £3 million over several years.
One victim even said, “I would say some homeless people here in the UK live better than I lived after I arrived over here,”. They were kept tightly under lock and key – their identity cards were taken from them; if any complained they would be threatened and beaten.
Nobody knew the troubles they were going through, which were hidden right in plain sight. An anti- trafficking charity noticed an increase in the amount of Polish people attending one of their soup kitchens and alerted the authorities.
These tragedies are taking place right under our noses – and if we become more aware of them and learn signs which may help us to spot and prevent misfortunes like this continuing. If you come into contact someone some signs that may help identify them is victims are if they look malnourished; if someone else is speaking for them. They may look reluctant to interact with others; they may not have personal identification with them; if they’re being dropped off and picked up from work at unusual times – consistently; and they may not able to move around freely. These are always things to look out for, because these people are living in fear, and do not have a voice and you could make the difference in their life. We must remember that when you change the way you look at things; the things you look at change.