A mother and father-to-be are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their new baby after being freed from labour exploitation.
The couple were two of the victims of the UK’s largest modern slavery ring, which Hope for Justice worked alongside West Midlands Police to foil.
Eight members of a gang that exploited 400 victims who were trafficked from Poland, were jailed in July last year following a trial. It came after a three-year investigation, named Operation Fort.
Now, a male and female survivor, who are still being supported by the global anti-slavery charity, say they are “on the right path to starting a better life” and are “looking forward” to their baby’s birth this summer.
Leon* and Amelia* were tricked into leaving their homes and families in Poland in order to travel to England, with the promise of work and a better life.
But when they arrived, they were made to live in rat-infested houses and work menial jobs with long hours, under harsh conditions, for little pay.
Amelia said: “We both came to the UK hoping for a better life, but we got it wrong.
“Our money was stolen and we were forced into slavery.
“It resulted in us both having low self-esteem and a lack of trust in people.
“We felt like everyone wanted to cheat us.
“But now we are on the right path to starting a new and better life. We are very happy and looking forward to the future with our new baby.”
The couple have been relocated and are both now in secure employment.
Hope for Justice has supported them by providing legal advocacy, putting them in touch with an agency who has arranged their accommodation and benefits, helping them to liaise with the police, and connecting them with a social worker.
The charity will also be a part of the family’s support network once the baby is born.
One of the Hope for Justice’s Independent Modern Slavery Advocates – who has worked directly with the survivors – said: “It has been a great privilege to help these survivors and to be a critical part of their journey to restoration.
“They were incredibly vulnerable and subjected to exploitation. They were made to live in squalor, in inhumane conditions.
“We are delighted that they are expecting a child. They deserve every bit of happiness.”
*Names and image changed to protect identity of victims