AJ's story

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A father of two who fled his home in West Africa after death threats were made against him, found himself exploited for domestic labour when he arrived in the UK.

Thirty-five year-old AJ planned to claim asylum in the UK due to suffering political persecution in his home country. But when he arrived, a man who had befriended him on the plane stole his luggage and passport, leaving him stranded and fearful of strangers.

“It was the first time I had left my home country,” said AJ. “I didn’t know the rules of the UK, I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. I was confused about what to do at the airport, but a man from my flight said he would help me. Instead he stole my bag and passport.

“I ended up sleeping on the streets. It was February and completely freezing. It was scary. I had no money, I didn’t know anyone, I felt completely alone.”

AJ was very vulnerable, so when a woman approached him offering him help and a place to stay, he gladly went with her.

“I thought she was a good person offering me help. I felt helpless, so I went with her.”

The woman took him home and asked him to support her with her domestic chores and childcare of her two young children.

AJ was given food in return for his help, but no bed, and was made to sleep on the floor.

“The UK was freezing for me, but she would never let me have a warm shower.

“It was cold, lonely and scary for me living with her family. She kept saying I was here illegally so if I didn’t do everything she said, she would report me to the police and have me arrested and deported.

“I had come to the UK to save my own life. Politicians tried to kill me in my home country, but she would stand at the window in her house pretending that the police were coming to look for me. I was in a constant panic.”

After six months, AJ ran away from the house while the family were out.

“I went back to the streets,” he said. “I had no bag, no money, nothing.”

AJ worked up the courage to approach a stranger for help, and was eventually referred to Causeway’s modern slavery services, and has now been granted asylum.

Whilst waiting for his asylum claim to go through, AJ volunteered with his local community, and is keen to begin working once more.

“It’s been a lonely, scary time,” he said. “I miss my family, and my two children very much. I loved my home country, it is so beautiful and green, but there are so many killings. It is so unstable.

“My home is the UK now, and I want to work and make a life for myself here now. Thank you so much to Causeway who have helped me so much, and been so good to me. Thank you for all your hard work.”