Jack* experienced modern slavery in London

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I’ve been living here in London since I was two years old. Everything about my childhood was normal. I lived with mum who worked hard to provide for me, and we always had just about enough food on the table. I went to primary school and secondary school like any other child; sometimes it was fun, other times it could have been better. I grew up with a love of music and had dreams of breaking into a career in music production. Everything was regular.

When I turned 17, my mum couldn’t afford to keep the flat that we were living in. She had to get a studio apartment, and I had to find somewhere to live. I ended up crashing on a friend’s sofa. To be honest, I was excited.

Luck seemed to be on my side. A friend of a friend offered me a job in a recording studio working on a number of music projects, and I thought that all of my Christmases had come at once. I could work on their music, and then record my own in my spare time.

I’d spend hours and hours every day working on their music, but also being told to clean the studio and do manual jobs. It got to a point where I was sleeping on the studio floor because I had so much to do. The first time I asked to be paid, I was flat out ignored. When I asked a few days later, I was told it would come at the end of the month.

Four weeks passed, and I asked again. I was told that they didn’t have enough money to pay me, but that they could give me drugs to sell on in order to make my money’s worth. I refused, and after asking to be paid once again, they beat me.

It was the next day that everything revealed itself. I went to college, and after seeing my injuries, my tutor called the police. They interviewed me, and I learnt that this group are a highly organised gang. They told me that what was happening to me was forced labour, a type of modern slavery.

I am now 18 and being supported by Hestia’s Modern Slavery Response team. My Advocate is doing everything he can to ensure that things get better for me, helping me find things including accommodation and legal representation.

At first, I didn’t know how this would affect me, I was just in shock. Now, with the help of my Advocate, I’m accessing a counselling service. I was shaken, and started feeling low and shamed, and realised I need extra support.

There’s a long way to go until I can fully recover from this, I think, but I have faith that I’ll get there in time.

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