modern slavery

Marta and Paul's story

Marta And Paul Rewriting Christmas

Marta and Paul are looking forward to Christmas this year.

As Polish nationals, the married pair have always been enthusiastic about the holiday season, and in true Polish style have spent years cooking up elaborate Christmas Eve feasts, and celebrating together.

However, last Christmas, things were not looking so good for the couple.

Marta and Paul, both in their 50s, spent most of last December homeless, penniless and afraid after escaping from the locked cellar where they were being held by traffickers.

After their cleaning business went bust, the couple were encouraged by people who had heard about the collapse of their business, to travel to London to work in a shop.

However, when they arrived, their passports were taken, and they were told they owed their new employer thousands in ‘fees’ and travel expenses. The couple had been tricked by members of a Polish criminal gang, and were locked in a cellar underneath the shop.

They are not sure how long they were kept there, as they were only allowed out to work. Marta was made to work in the shop and as a cleaner, and Paul was taken every day to a nearby carwash.

“It was very scary,” said Marta. “Some days they wouldn’t unlock the cellar, and we would have no food. I worried if there was a fire we wouldn’t be able to get out.”

Even though Marta and Paul were afraid of the gang, after months of being forced to work long hours for free, they took the first chance they could to escape.

“We ran away and spent two weeks sleeping on benches around Euston Train Station,” said Marta. “It was cold, and depressing, and I was worried the gang would be searching for us.”

The couple sought help from the police and Polish Embassy, and on Christmas Day, they were found emergency accommodation, and then referred into Causeway’s family safe house.

“Causeway have taken care of us,” said Marta. “And we help take care of the younger girls living in the safe house with their babies and children. At Christmas we plan to have a little party together in the house common room, decorate the tree and exchange little gifts.”

Marta and Paul have found work again, and are preparing to move on from Causeway’s support.

“Causeway helped put a roof over our head and made us feel safe,” said Marta. “We are looking forward to our future together again now.”

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