Fredek, originally from Hungary, is in his 30s. In 2012 he was a slave in the UK, today he is free. Fredek explains how this happened.
“Things were bad in my life in Hungary. I was looking for a way to make a new start. When someone I knew told me about factory work in the UK, which could pay £2,000 a month, I thought I had nothing to lose. I was wrong. I lost everything.”
Fredek travelled to the UK with other men. They were taken to a house where their passports were taken away. From that point on they were kept as prisoners and frequently threatened with physical assault. Initially Fredek was too afraid to escape as he had no identity papers and thought the police would deport him. He was made to work for as little as £3 a week in places and jobs as varied as pizza parlours, chicken factories, selling mobile phones and distributing flyers. He was even coerced into stealing scrap metal and made to open false bank accounts.
Months later, Fredek found the courage to escape by jumping out of a window and ran to the police who offered him a safe place to stay with The Salvation Army.
Fredek said: “From the moment I arrived, I felt they wanted me to succeed. They believed in me. The Salvation Army service helped me connect with the police as a witness and to get advice on how to proceed. They never left my side through the whole process.
“I was given help to close the fraudulent bank accounts and clean my record, so I had a fresh start. They also arranged desperately needed dental treatment and access to English classes. All this gave me the confidence to become more independent. I have been supported to find a community I felt I could be a part of and that would help me build a life in the UK.
“My whole outlook on life has changed. I now look at people with love and I want to build a life that I can invite my family to be a part of again. What was impossible is now possible.”
Fredek loves the gym, riding his bike and volunteering in the local community. He is a qualified Thai boxing instructor and is soon moving into a new house.