The hidden cost of cheap goods and services

Cheap labour can sometimes have horrific human cost

Have you ever looked at a product or service and wondered how it could be so cheap? 

The reality is that cheap prices often come at a horrific human cost:

  • The £5 car wash down the road? That’s made possible by Karel, earning a pittance for working tough, long days and living in an overcrowded caravan out the back. He would leave, but the car wash owners have taken his documents, beaten him and threatened to hurt his family back in Poland. 
  • Getting your nails done for less than a tenner? That's because Bian and the other ladies in the salon don't get paid for the hours they work. Held by threats of brutal punishment if they try to escape and forced to move around the country by the criminal gangs who control them.
  • The bargain builders? Someone like Cristian, earning a pittance for working tough, long days in construction, unable to leave because of threats of violence and living in an overcrowded caravan out the back.

The demand for cheap goods, cheap labour and cheap sex has created the perfect storm for human trafficking across the world. 


Here in the UK thousands of people every day are forced into lives they didn’t ask for.

We want to raise awareness of people being exploited for cheap labour and services. This is happening in every community in the UK. The people in these images are models. Stories are based on real-life experiences but names have been changed.  

Salvation Army Modern Slavery Karel

Karel's story

Karel was living with his family in Poland. He is in his early 20’s and keen to earn money but there weren’t many prospects in his home town. He was therefore interested when he heard of work opportunities in the UK. He signed up in Poland and arrangements were made to bring him into the UK by coach. 

Modern Slavery Salvation Army Prisha

Prisha's story 

Prisha was in her early 20’s, when her employer in India arranged for her to study in the UK, promising this would improve her qualifications. Prisha arrived in the UK on a student visa when she was in her 20’s. It was agreed that Prisha would pay back the cost of her travel once in the UK.

Salvation Army Modern Slavery Cristian

Cristian's story

Cristian comes from Romania. When he had some financial problems, he took out a loan. His creditors kept increasing the interest rates and Cristian was struggling to pay it off. They then offered to find him building work overseas in order to pay off his debts. Cristian felt he had no option but to accept and travelled with them to the UK.


Here to help

Modern slavery is often hidden in plain sight, happening in our streets, towns and villages.  You can help us tackle this horrific crime by reporting anything that concerns you.

Our confidential Modern Slavery Referral Helpline on 0800 808 3733 is open 24/7.

The Salvation Army provides specialist support for all adult victims of modern slavery in England and Wales.

Everyone The Salvation Army supports has access to a wide range of specialist services to meet their individual needs whether that is within a safehouse or through outreach support.


How you can help

  • Many companies now have a Modern Slavery Statement on their website. This is a quick and easy way to check that the brands you are supporting are taking steps to remove slave labour from their workforce. 
  • Learn how to spot the signs
  • If you're concerned, phone our 24/7 confidential Modern Slavery referral helpline on 0800 808 3733.
  • Donate to The Salvation Army and provide essential support to the thousands of people still caught in slavery today.
  • Volunteer to help victims of modern slavery get the support they need and deserve. 

Spot the signs

Learn the tell-tale signs of modern slavery, and where to get help for victims.

Anti-trafficking and modern slavery

Find volunteering roles to support victims of modern slavery including drivers, chaperones, first responders and mentors.

Latest campaigns

Help us raise awareness of this heinous crime by supporting our latest campaigns

Modern slavery

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