Sam’s story: Survivor secures new job after construction site exploitation

January 12, 2024

Being a provider has always been important to Sam*. As well as supporting his family, work gives Sam structure and a sense of pride.

Limited opportunities at home led Sam to leave his family to seek stable work in the UK. He was told about a construction site that also offered accommodation – this felt like a ‘win-win’ because it would free up more of his pay to send home. However, it soon became clear that free accommodation was being used as a tool of control for his employers.

His hours got longer and pay became more sporadic. His exploiters forged his time sheets and, when Sam raised this, they threatened him and his family. They told him he could not leave. He was trapped, exploited and forced to work excessive hours for less and less pay.  

Eventually, Sam ran away, leaving him homeless. A homeless charity identified him as a victim of labour exploitation and referred him to one of our Victim Navigators, who started supporting and building trust with him.

They got on well and it soon became clear that Sam was struggling living in a safe house. He felt that the ‘boredom could lead to chaos’. Sadly, we often see survivors who live in safe houses without purpose or activities turn to destructive tendencies. Sam needed to work. 

Our Navigator helped him apply to safe work opportunities through a partner charity, Bright Futures. She supported him throughout the process, which was a challenge for Sam as he did not speak English as a first language. She helped him create a CV and application, and sat in on his interview.

This moral support was invaluable for his confidence and he secured a role at a large supermarket factory site. Sam was overjoyed when he found out and said he was ‘forever thankful to you (the Navigator)… because I could have been out of work for a long time‘.

The Navigator has also ensured that necessary adjustments are made by his new employer to accommodate an old injury and ensure he is supported in a trauma-informed way. New authority figures can be triggering to survivors, who have often been abused by their ex bosses, so our Navigator remains in contact with his new employer. 

Sam is now in a good place. He is safe from his exploiters and enjoying his new job. The income is enabling him to consider living independently again and is bringing back his sense of pride in his work and normalcy, which is crucial to his ongoing recovery. 

*name changed to protect identity