This is the story of Jonas who has been supported by our charity project partner, The Snowdrop Project. It shows the realities of modern slavery and the incredible progress which can be made with access to long term support.
Jonas is a 61-year-old man who has travelled more than many people have in their entire lives. When his marriage ended, Jonas was made homeless and in his vulnerable state, he was trafficked from Hungary to Canada. Having been moved to Canada he was then trafficked to the UK to be exploited as a domestic servant and handyman for a Hungarian family who was running a prostitution ring.
A bank account was opened under his name, but he was never given the cards. State benefits were claimed under his national insurance, but he never received any. He was forced to work at a factory, but was never paid. He was made to do jobs in the houses that were used as brothels and drive the women and his traffickers around. When the work dried up, he was forced to steal, leading him to be arrested and then made homeless again.
After being arrested, Jonas made a claim to the Police and was moved into a safe house. Whilst living there, he provided lengthy interviews providing invaluable evidence against his criminal captors. Many more lives were still under their oppressive thumb.
After leaving the safety of the police, Jonas was provided accommodation with the Salvation Army homeless project, and later moved into a permanent flat provided by Sheffield City Council.
He had developed numerous health problems as a result of his traumatic experiences. He suffered from extremely low moods, memory problems, hoarding, and suicidal thoughts to name but a few. His English language skills were also very low.
To help Jonas to overcome these problems, The Salvation Army referred Jonas to The Snowdrop Project.
At Snowdrop, survivors of modern slavery are supported to overcome their previous exploitation. Snowdrop takes a holistic approach to supporting every individual with a wide range of services including:
- an English language tutor to help him integrate into British society and secure a job
- a caseworker and interpreter to support him with his rehabilitation. This included:
- making sure he attended his English classes
- supporting him with and attending his numerous health referrals and appointments
- help to improve his CV and job applications
- a safe space for Jonas to escape loneliness
- materials and funding for a personal design project
- support with his application for an extension to his residency within the UK
Despite the number of emotional blows Jonas had received, he kept moving forward.
Jonas is a keen handyman and felt empowered when given work where he could make a positive impact. He would go into the Snowdrop offices of his own accord and repair faulty sewing machines used in skills workshops provided to other survivors. He also enjoyed fixing broken vacuum cleaners that he used to help voluntarily clean the office spaces. Being helpful was really empowering for him.
As a result of his original interviews, the Police arrested six members of the family that trafficked him. He was able to testify via a video-link in a different place to the trial, and Snowdrop supported him in watching the hours of evidence produced in court. Jonas’ testimony resulted in his trafficker receiving a sentence of 13 years, and the family got a total of 43 years imprisonment for the offences against Jonas and others. He will leave the world as a better place than when he entered it.
Jonas is now working towards a Maths GCSE, and with the help of Snowdrop, hopes to gain employment.
In 2019, we are working with Snowdrop to establish a new home for survivors of modern slavery. They will receive support and a place to rebuild their lives. Follow this link for more information.