A woman who was trafficked to the UK for forced labour has secured full-time employment with international food manufacturer Greencore after taking part in a Bright Future placement.
Alise*, who has been supported by Hope for Justice since spring 2019, said she is “grateful to have stable income and stable work” at Greencore after being exploited and then out of work for so long.
Alise, who is in her 50s, was trafficked to the UK from her home in Eastern Europe on the promise of paid work. But when she arrived in the East Midlands, Alise was forced to work in a factory and to carry out housework, including cooking and cleaning, for no pay. This continued for three months before police raided the property where she was staying and assisted her out of her exploitation.
One of Hope for Justice’s Independent Modern Slavery Advocates (IMSAs), said: “Alise was desperate to find employment after escaping exploitation. She shared her CV with many companies and workplaces but unfortunately faced rejection. It is often challenging for survivors of modern slavery to re-enter employment due to multiple and complex barriers, including lack of English, poor mental health and limited knowledge of UK systems.”
Our IMSA sought out English tuition to help Alise develop her spoken language – a skill she would need for working in the UK.
Hope for Justice has also helped Alise to secure stable accommodation and welfare benefits. The charity has assisted at appointments with Alise’s immigration solicitor, provided supporting evidence for her immigration case, and helped Alise to engage with the police investigation and subsequent prosecution against those associated with her exploitation.
More recently, Hope for Justice supported Alise to gain a place at a college where she has been studying English, and enrolled her on a course to learn how to use a computer and smart phone – major barriers for her due to English not being her first language. Our IMSA has also referred Alise for trauma counselling to assist her mental health.
Hope for Justice later referred Alise to the Bright Future programme when her standard of English was now proficient enough to undertake the four-week placement.
Alise said: “I found it very difficult to find work before the placement, nearly impossible. I sent CVs to lots of places but no one ever got back to me.”
Our IMSA said: “We are so thankful for schemes such as the Bright Future programme that provide opportunities for survivors of modern slavery who might otherwise face barriers to accessing mainstream employment.”
Alise successfully completed her placement at a factory, resulting in the offer of a full-time permanent job with convenience foods producer Greencore.
Kirsty Hart, Bright Future Manager, said: “We were thrilled to be able to match this candidate to our business partner Greencore. The fact that this candidate has been given a permanent contract is a testament to the hard work that she displayed during her four-week placement, but it also shows that when charities and businesses work collaboratively together, real and lasting impact can be made to survivors’ lives.”
Alise told us that she “feels happy” and “very positive” to be in a workplace that provides stability.
“It took me a couple of weeks to get used to working at Greencore”, she said. “The work is fast-paced and it was difficult at first, but I gradually got into it. Now I feel happy. I have a good relationship with my colleagues and workmates. I feel very positive about having stable employment. It’s good to have a stable income and stable work.”
Greencore Group plc, headquartered in Dublin, makes sandwiches, ready meals and other convenience foods for retailers across the UK, including M&S. The ‘food to go’ specialist has a large number of manufacturing sites and distribution depots across the UK.
Gillian Winters, Technical Controller and member of the Ethical Committee at Greencore, said: “Greencore is committed to tackling modern slavery and has been lucky enough to work with some excellent partner organisations over the years to address this important issue. Since 2016, we have been a proud business partner to Stronger Together, a modern slavery reduction initiative, and we have used their resources to educate our people on how best to spot any signs of modern slavery in the workplace.
“We were also delighted to be asked to participate in the Bright Future programme, which is a pathway to permanent employment for survivors of modern slavery. It has been heartening to witness the fantastic progress made by survivors as they undertake regular and fulfilling work at Greencore’s sites across the country. We look forward to welcoming more people onto the programme in the coming weeks and months.
“Charities like City Hearts and Hope for Justice play an incredibly important role in assisting modern slavery survivors as they rebuild their lives. To be able to support these organisations by offering employment is something we are immensely proud of and look forwarding to continuing into the future.”
*Name and photo changed to protect identity of survivor