08/04/2024

Armin's story

Armin Taghipour 1

Armin, 32, was a successful chef and consultant in Iran and Oman, where he helped to run multiple successful businesses, and even taking part in two series of Masterchef.

He is passionate about cooking, learning new skills, and sharing his knowledge with others.

In the hope of furthering his career, he accepted a job as a Head Chef for a hotel in the UK.

However, when he arrived, he was exploited by his employer.

“I would work for ten hours straight in the kitchen, then when I tried to sleep, the woman who owned the hotel would call me in the middle of the night, telling me I shouldn’t be sleeping, but prepping for the next event," said Armin.

"They paid me for the first two weeks, but for four months after that, when I asked where my money was, they kept telling me ‘we will pay you, we will pay you,' but they never did.

“My skilled worker visa was linked to this job, so I couldn’t leave to go and work anywhere else, and I had very little money to live on, and they knew this. They took advantage of the fact I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I didn’t know anything about this country or the law, and I felt like I was in a very bad place.”

Armin contacted Citizen’s Advice who advised him to make a complaint to the police, who referred him into the NRM for modern slavery support.

Since then, Armin has been waiting for another visa that will allow him to work in the UK, and in the meantime, has been taking part in Causeway’s Ingredients for Life scheme.

The scheme is a series of cooking classes run by professional chefs in the development kitchens of large companies such as Asda as a way of teaching new skills, and increasing confidence in survivors of modern slavery.

“I found the Ingredients for Life sessions really good,” said Armin. “I really enjoyed the experience because it reminded me of being back in Iran and taking part in MasterChef.

“I also used to help teach cooking, so it was nice to be a student again. In the sessions we concentrated on making a seafood soup, gnocchi, and fish and chips.

“I could see that it was helping people build confidence around cooking, as well as in themselves. When people are in the NRM, many of us are not allowed to work, so life can be boring and isolating. Sessions like these are good for helping people have some fun.”

Find out more about Ingredients for Life.