A man has benefited from the independent advocacy of Hope for Justice staff after a debt of more than £1,000 was falsely accrued in his name.
Sebastian* is rebuilding his life after experiencing multiple periods of exploitation in the UK, which include forced labour, working long hours at a car wash for which he received less than half the minimum wage and faced threats if he failed to comply. He was also housed in overcrowded and claustrophobic accommodation.
Hope for Justice has been advocating on behalf of the man, who is in his late 20s, for two years after being directly involved in his rescue.
Most recently, the team has successfully overturned a debt of more than £1,000 that was linked to his exploitation as well as an associated court order.
Sebastian said: “When I received a letter informing me of the extent of money I apparently owed, I didn’t fully understand it. I didn’t know what to do with it nor how to prove it wasn’t me. I am very happy with the outcome. I wouldn’t have been able to resolve the situation without Hope for Justice’s help.”
Sebastian was wrongly accused of being in debt to a company and was being pursued for payment. His perpetrator had taken his ID and used his personal details to set up direct debits in his name. Hope for Justice’s Advocacy team liaised with the company pursuing action against him and with an enforcement agency, explaining the circumstances around the debt, providing evidence of Sebastian’s identification as a victim of modern slavery and calling for the debt to be disregarded.
Sebastian recently received notification that the debt will be cleared, and he will no longer be pursued for payment.
His Independent Modern Slavery Advocate at Hope for Justice called it a “huge relief” that means he can go on with his life without this hanging over him.
Sebastian, who is originally from Poland, is formally identified as a victim of modern slavery in the UK, having received a ‘conclusive grounds’ decision from the government team responsible for determining these cases. Hope for Justice previously supported him in challenging the Home Office’s negative decision about his status, which was successfully overturned.
The charity has also provided support to secure him accommodation, made referrals to other services and helped him to access welfare benefits which he is entitled to.
*Name changed to protect identity of victim