Story from Isobel McFarlane, Media Officer, Salvation Army
Pawel was a young man from Poland who came to work in the UK because where he was working in Poland making plastic moulds his weekly wage was not very good and he could barely manage on it. He was told by a friend that he could work in England and earn better wages of £250/£300 per week. He was given the details of an agency, who would arrange everything, they would sort out his travel and his accommodation and there would be a job ready for him to start when he arrived. He agreed and went to the agency in Poland and they showed him the job he would be doing within England, it would be a pot washer in a hotel restaurant in the Midlands. He felt this was a good opportunity so agreed that the agency fly him to England, they paid for his ticket and said he could pay this back over a couple of weeks out of his wages. He brought most of his belongings with him, as he was told when he arrived, he would share a house with others but have his own room.
When he arrived in England he was met at the airport and taken to Nottingham where he was placed in a house and he had to share his room with another Polish man. He was informed that his job had fallen through as a pot washer, however that there was an opportunity for work in another town nearby. Pawel wasn’t happy about this because he had been told that his job was in Nottingham; however he was informed that because the agency had paid for his flight he owed them money and he need to pay it back before he could leave them. Because he was worried about this and because he wanted to work he agreed to go.
Again when he arrived he was put in a house with lots of other people from Poland and told by the traffickers, that they would come for him when they had sorted out his work. Pawel was told he wasn’t allowed to leave the house. He became friends with a couple within the house and he was made to register with an agency. He was then offered employment within a cake factory, his wages were taken from him and he was informed that he needed to pay the money for his flight, and that he also needed to pay for his accommodation and his food. When he said he wasn’t happy about this he was threatened with violence and told if he carried on he would be beaten up. Pawel was very scared so he did as he was told, the men who were trafficking him started having parties within the house so he wasn’t able to sleep properly and they started to threaten him again. They took him out and made him steal things from shops and when he was caught by the police he was too scared to say anything. Because he had no previous convictions he was warned and let go; when he got out of the police station they were waiting for him. They threatened him again and said if he said anything to anyone they would break his neck. Pawel said that all he wanted to do was go back home to Poland, but he was too scared to do anything about it.
Pawel was then rescued by the Gangmasters Licensing Agency when they did a raid; he was brought to a Salvation Army safe house with a couple and another young Polish lad. He had no ID papers so we had to arrange for his new passport. When we completed his assessment and induction process, he informed us that all he wanted to do was go back home to Poland. With this in mind we contacted our nominated person within the Polish embassy to arrange a temporary passport for Pawel and this arrived within a week. We then applied for assistance for Pawel to return home by way of the International Organisation for Migration. We completed all the paper work with Pawel about his return and what help and support he would need when he returned home. Pawel was returning back to Poland to live with his sister so didn’t need help with accommodation assistance, however Pawel needed help and support finding employment so he could support himself. The International Organisation for Migration agreed to support Pawel on his return and also in put him in touch with a support network in Poland who would help him find employment.
The International Organisation for Migration provided Pawel with his flight and we transported Pawel to London Gatwick and then placed him in the care of staff from the International Organisation for Migration, who stayed with him until his flight arrived. Pawel needed to have an exchange flight in Frankfurt and again he was met off his flight from London and helped with the transit flight. Pawel was met in Poland and then given all the contact details of the agency that was going to support him find employment. The staff from the International Organisation for Migration stayed with him until his family arrived to meet him at the airport.
We have had some contact with Pawel since his return to Poland, and he seems very happy and he has found work.