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2017 (Narrative Date)

There are an estimated 136,000 people living on conditions of modern slavery in the United Kingdom (Global Slavery Index 2018). According to the 2017 annual figures provided by the National Crime Agency, 5, 145 potential victims of modern slavery were referred through the National Referral Mechanism in 2017, of whom 2,454 were female, 2688 were male and 3 were transgender, with 41% of all referrals being children at the time of exploitation. People are subjected to slavery in the UK in the form of domestic servitude, labour exploitation, organ harvesting and sexual exploitation, with the largest number of potential victims originating from Albania, China, Vietnam and Nigeria. This data however does not consider the unknown numbers of victims that are not reported.

Nicolae, a 29-year-old Romanian, was approached by a man on the street near his home city one day, offering him a job in the UK for 700 pounds, or around $860, a month. His family was living in extreme poverty and some days unable to feed themselves, so he jumped at the opportunity.

I ended up being paid just 300 pounds [$370] per month for almost a year, working 12-hour night shifts daily in a factory. I needed that money, so I stayed.

Initially, I was told I would be given food, but for three months, I had to buy my own food. I thought I shouldn't spend too much on food, so I drank a lot of coffee. Before coming here, I didn't look like this. I'm so thin now.

He took my ID card. He used these documents to apply for bank accounts and many other things. We would go out together. He said, 'Come with me, I will help you get some documents,' but he'd take me to banks or shops to take mobile phone contracts, all sorts of cunning techniques to exploit me.

In the end, he beat me up, really bruising my face. I couldn't stay there any more, so I slept on the streets because I didn't know where to go.

Narrative provided by Al Jazeera