Rik's story


For most of his life, Rik lived a happy, financially stable existence in his home country of Czech Republic where he was close to his mother and had dreams of starting a family and buying a home of his own.

However, when he lost his job, followed shortly by the death of his mother, Rik’s world began to crumble.

He was approached by a man from his local town who boasted of the life and money he was enjoying in the UK. Carl* encouraged Rik to join him there, and promised he would help set him up with a home and job.

Rik agreed, and together they drove to the UK where Carl helped Rik settle into a flat in a large city. Carl took Rik’s passport and documents to set a bank account up for him. He then kept them - telling Rik it was for his own security and benefit.

Rik started picking fruit at a farm where he received just £30 per week. Carl explained that Rik needed to pay back his travel and housing costs but once those had been cleared he would be back on the normal rate.

Before this happened Carl found Rik a 'better' job, but one where he would still only be getting £30 per week instead of the £500 a week his colleagues were earning.

He was also made to take on extra work at a car wash at the weekends meaning he was earning just £4.20 a day.

Rik knew he was being taken advantage of and continued to question his situation and so called 'debts.' In response, Carl attacked him and threatened to have him arrested and deported. This led to a pattern of physical violence and intimidation any time Rik dared to complain.

Rik felt powerless, trapped and depressed. He had no money, no friends, no home that wasn’t connected to Carl, and was unaware of his rights or support that was available to him. Following years of this exploitation he also became ill and malnourished.

It was only when Rik learned that Carl was planning to build a new house in the Czech Republic with the profits he had made from Rik’s work that he decided he had nothing to lose by telling the police.

The police referred Rik into the government’s modern slavery support system where he was supported in one of Causeway’s safe houses.

Rik weighed less than eight stone when he arrived.

Following months of recovery with Causeway where he built back his physical and emotional health, he was put in touch with Bright Future Co-operative, an organisation who help survivors find work and start a new life. Rik was soon taken on as a full-time employee at Pilgrim’s, a meat processing plant in the North West where he is described by colleagues as a hardworking, valued, and respected member of the team.

“I now realise that working in the UK shouldn’t be how it was when I first came here,” said Rik.

“Now I have a job that I enjoy, and full control over my money and my life.

"I’m saving for my future and I’m finally loving life in the UK.”