Aisha's Story

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Aisha* loves her job. She loves the financial independence it gives her, but more than that, she loves the sense of community it brings and the friends she’s made. Working gives her stability, it gives her routine, and it gives her self-respect.

Aisha has always worked. She was a teacher in her home country, and was passionate about knowledge, and working with people. However, after coming to the UK to pursue her career, she was exploited at the hands of people she trusted. Long years of abuse crushed her confidence, made her question the motives of others, and turned her into a shell of her former self.

Aisha was referred into a Causeway safe house where, following a period of recovery and some intensive emotional support, she was ready to begin her journey back into independence.

She joined the Bright Future scheme, an initiative started by Causeway and the Co op as a way to help survivors of modern slavery back into work by removing some of the bureaucratic hurdles.

Bright Future, which is now its own legal entity and cooperative of organisations, finds paid job placements for survivors of exploitation, which can then lead to permanent employment. There is no stressful application or formal interview process, and survivors are made to feel comfortable and welcome as they take their first steps back into the wider community.

Aisha agreed to a two-week job placement with the Co op supermarket at one of its branches in the North West.

“I brought two case workers with me as I was very nervous,” said Aisha. “It was my first interview in this country. I wasn’t sure I would get the job, but it was very informal. I met with the manager, and then he called me to come and get my uniform. I was so happy. After two weeks there was £200 in my account. I couldn’t believe it. Such joy! I bought myself a nice dinner and some clothes.”

Aisha’s placement was successful, and she soon had a permanent role at the Co-op branch.

“My job was permanent. I knew no body could take it from me,” she said. “But I didn’t really know about supermarkets. I had never been to a supermarket, and I had never bought a lot of the things that they sold.

“At first it was hard being in front of so many people, but the customers got to know me. The Co op where I work is near a college. The students come in and they like me. It gives me so much confidence. I feel like I’m a mum there.”

Aisha’s job with the Co op is somewhere she can go to be herself and forget her troubles. It’s somewhere she feels happy and safe, a place where she made friends and grew as a person.

It’s more than just a job to her. It’s a path to freedom and recovery and confidence.

“I was kept away from people for seven years,” she said. “But I had a hunger inside for meeting people, and it’s still here. I love to speak with people. I love my job.

“I felt ashamed for a long time. Now I feel blessed.”