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Spot the signs of modern slavery in construction

Have you ever looked at a product or service and wondered how it could be so cheap? 

The reality is that cheap prices often come at a horrific human cost:

  • The bargain builders? Someone like Cristian, earning a pittance for working tough, long days in construction, unable to leave because of threats of violence and living in an overcrowded caravan out the back.. 
  • Getting your nails done for less than a tenner? That's possible because Bian and the other ladies in the salon don't get paid for the hours they work. Held by threats of brutal punishment if they try to escape and forced to move around the country by the criminal gangs who control them.
  • And the ‘escort’ your friend of a friend booked? Does she really want to be there? 

The demand for cheap goods, cheap labour and cheap sex has created the perfect storm for human trafficking across the world. 

Here in the UK thousands of people are forced every day into lives they didn’t ask for.

man at car wash

The people in these images are models. Stories are based on real-life experiences but names have been changed. We want to raise awareness of people being exploited for cheap labour and services. This is happening in every community in the UK. 

Here to help

Modern slavery is often hidden in plain sight, happening in our streets, towns and villages. You can help us tackle this horrific crime by reporting anything that concerns you.

Our confidential Modern Slavery Referral Helpline on 0300 303 8151 is open 24/7.

The Salvation Army provides specialist support for all adult victims of modern slavery in England and Wales.

Everyone The Salvation Army supports has access to a wide range of specialist services to meet their individual needs whether that is within a safehouse or through outreach support.

Cristian's story

Cristian comes from Romania. When he had some financial problems, he took out a loan. His creditors kept increasing the interest rates and Cristian was struggling to pay it off. They then offered to find him building work overseas in order to pay off his debts. Cristian felt he had no option but to accept and travelled with them to the UK. 

At first he was treated well and all his travel arrangements were made for him.  On arriving in the UK, two Romanian men collected Cristian, took his documents and drove him in a minibus to a house where stayed for three days before being taken to a construction site in Wales. There he was made to live and sleep at the site, working more than 10 hours a day and given very little to eat, often just a few slices of bread. If his captors thought he wasn’t working hard enough they wouldn’t give him any food as punishment. Once he tried to run away but was caught and beaten badly.

Cristian lived like this for three years until once day, when collecting bricks from the side of the road, he noticed he wasn’t being watched and ran away again. This time he was managed to survive for several months doing odd building jobs until someone heard his story and recommended he get a solicitor.

He was then referred to The Salvation Army for support and is now receiving financial and legal assistance and a safe place to stay. He knows his traffickers are dangerous people and is grateful that they cannot find him now. His support worker is helping him to move forward with his life. 

How you can help

  • Many companies now have a Modern Slavery Statement on their website. This is a quick and easy way to check that the brands you are supporting are taking steps to remove slave labour from their workforce. Find out more
  • Learn how to spot the signs
  • If you're concerned, phone our 24/7 confidential Modern Slavery referral helpline on 0300 303 8151.
  • Donate to The Salvation Army and provide essential support to the thousands of people still caught in slavery today. Donate now.
  • Volunteer to help victims of modern slavery get the support they need and deserve. Find out more.

Read more about our work in Modern Slavery.