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.
Amelia’s story began when she was trafficked from her home in an Eastern European country. Her ‘boyfriend’ told her that he could get them both jobs in the UK. He went ahead and sent plane tickets for her to join him. However, when she arrived at the airport she was met by a strange man. He drove her to a flat where she was raped and forced into prostitution. She eventually escaped from her traffickers and was supported by Black Country Women’s Aid.
When I came here for the first time it was a miracle first that I find this place, it was a miracle for me. Because I was hopeless, without money, without… homeless, basically and in the end of that I had a very, very bad experience in my life.
My confidence, it doesn’t exist when I came in, I was just crying every day and every night. I was so slim without eating, without sleeping and depressed, definitely depressed.
The first thing that they do… I came here without clothes, without money, without nothing, just me. And then I came here and they were very helpful for me. My support worker speak to me every day, and listen me. And just gave me heart, and this I needed in that moment because when you are hopeless and you feel you are destroyed and everything, the first that thing you wanted is good words, to feel good and to know that you are existing in this world. My passion, it was gone, and my confidence and everything, I was dying inside me, basically.
So the first thing I went to the GP and then my support worker give me clothes and things and they knock my door every day and every night. Every day, when they were here just to see if I’m alright or if I want to eat, because even I didn’t want to eat nothing. And you know they were here to take off my tears and to rebuild something… slowly slowly to start to building again my confidence and my existence basically.
So with passing of days I feel every day better because I know that I am here with people that they are really helping me, they really try to help me. I was just around good people and my confidence slowly slowly I get back.
You guys bring me back in life. Now I can’t believe myself, and when I see myself in mirror I remember where I was and where I am now and I bless every day with these people.
Now I am more self-confidence. The girls teach me everything what to do and how to do, and now even my English is better.
I would like to do something, like charity like this, to help. Now maybe I can feel more, because when you have been through a lot, you feel more for another one, you understand more maybe and you know how to help them, like they helped me.
For 8 months I am a different person, definitely. I am really happy for myself. I never believed that I am going to be fine one day. Because I was without hope and thought all my life is going to be in tears, and without hope and homeless.”
I’ve been through a lot. I keep saying thank you, thank you, and they say stop saying thank you! But I feel it!
Narrative provided by Black Country Women’s Aid