“Life in the Ukraine was hard. I could not earn enough to cover even basic things like food and rent. There was never enough work.
One day, a man told us about an opportunity in the UK – washing cars for good pay, with accommodation and travel costs paid. It seemed like a good offer.
Nothing could have prepared me for the reality.
The accommodation was a small caravan at the back of the carwash, shared with five other men. I was told there was no space for my belongings and these were taken away from me immediately.
I was forced to work from dawn to after sundown each day in freezing conditions. I was told I had to work off the cost of my travel to the UK and pay for staying in the caravan. The bosses would beat us if we did not work as quickly as they wanted. I was told my family would be hurt if I left before working off my debt. I felt frightened, trapped and completely hopeless.
After three years, the car wash was visited by the police and Unseen support workers.
Now I have the chance to make a fresh start.”
*Nicholai’s name has been changed