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The majority of modern slavery victims are men

Modern slavery is often described as a crime hidden in plain sight.

An estimated 136,000 people are living under modern slavery conditions in the UK right now, so it’s highly likely you’ve seen or met someone being exploited.

And of those estimated 136,000 people, up to 100,000 will be men.

This International Men’s Day (Sunday November 19th), our Hidden Men of Modern Slavery campaign aims to shed light on the fact that three quarters of modern slavery victims in the UK are men.

Thank you to all the celebrities who took the time to help make this fantastic video!

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Exploitation can happen to anyone, from anywhere in the world, and at any age.

At Causeway we support men both from abroad, and here in the UK, who have experienced forced labour, forced criminality, and exhausting exploitative working conditions, usually as a result of debt bondage, fear of violence, or fear of deportation or arrest.

Many of the survivors we support from overseas came to the UK on the promise of a better life. Many entered the country with legitimate work visas, but were then charged thousands of pounds in ‘fees and costs’ by unscrupulous employment agencies.

This ‘debt bondage’ sees them working for thousands of hours, but receiving little to nothing in return. The debts never go down, and complaints are met with threats of deportation, violence against them or their families, arrest, or homelessness.

Omar* came to England from West Africa to work in the care sector. However, despite working 15-hour shifts, seven days a week, he rarely received more than £300 a month.

“I was kept in a padlocked shed on a mattress, unable to leave unless I was told I could. The shed had no kitchen, shower or heating, and only a bucket as a toilet.”

Many British men also find themselves victim to exploitation in the form of criminal exploitation, cuckooing, or various forms of debt bondage that gangs use to control them.

Chris* is a British man with learning difficulties who was exploited for forty years by a family who sent him to work as a farm labourer. When he wasn’t working he was kept locked in a garden shed with no toilet or running water, no heating, and no light.

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The main exploitation experienced by men in the UK is forced labour.

Industries with a high turn over of personnel, such as agriculture, construction, factory work, and the care and hospitality sectors, are able to camouflage large numbers of exploited people due to the transient nature of the labour.

Other industries, such as car washing, nail salons, sex work, and other 'cash in hand' businesses, are also common covers for human trafficking.

Some of the people we support were rescued thanks to tip offs from their co-workers who grew concerned for their welfare.

In one factory, colleagues of a man being exploited noticed he never had food for lunch, always wore the same dirty clothes, and didn't seem to have footwear of coats suitable for cold weather. It was also noted that he never seemed to have money, despite working full-time.

It turned out a rogue employment agency were stealing his wages and threatening him with deportation. 

Other colleagues of an exploited care worker noticed him eating left over food from the plates of residents, as well as seeming exhausted, and never having a day off.

Other signs of exploitation to look out for is someone living where they work, such as in a caravan or container, or maybe in very over crowded or run down accommodation.

Maybe they're unsure of where they are in the country, or who they're working for?

Do they seem scared of someone, do they have access to their own documents or bank accounts, are they constantly worried about deportation?

If you're worried a coworker, or someone you've seen, may be a victim of modern slavery, you can call the modern slavery helpline for free, and in confidence on 08000 121 700.

You can also report concerns to the Gang Masters and Labour Abuse Authority below.