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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 13:53 GMT
Britain's Streets of Slavery
From carers who give up their lives to look after sick relatives, to illegal immigrants managed by gangmasters and domestic servants imprisoned by the families who employ them.

BBC One's Britain's Streets of Slavery puts the spotlight on unpaid carers, migrant workers, domestic servants and human trafficking in the streets of modern Britain.


Labour of Love

A hidden workforce that saves the country billions of pounds.

Monday 27 - Thurs 30 March
BBC One, 0915 BST
Our Help & Advice page covers issues raised in the series.
There are six million carers in Britain looking after a relative or loved one, a spouse, a child or a parent. They work long hours with little or no pay. They do it for love and around 175,000 of them are children. Labour of Love looks at the world of carers.

Daniel aged 12, Denise aged 13 and Nicola aged 14 have been looking after their disabled mother, Mandy for the past four years.

"I started caring for mum when my dad left," says Daniel. "The first thing I started on was making cups of tea."

Denise, 13, helps her mum Mandy into bed
Denise, 13, takes it in turns with her siblings to care for mum Mandy
"We do different jobs like clean, like dusting, like hoovering. We have to feed the animals," says Denise.

The children have devised a daily rota of jobs. Together they run the household and prepare dinner six nights a week.

Young carers save the welfare state tens of thousands of pounds. In the UK, 13,000 children spend over 50 hours caring every week.

As well as housework, Mandy also needs personal care.

"I help her get in the bath," says Nicola, "because she can't lift her legs like we can and that means she'll slip and might hurt herself."

"They try to reverse the roles and it shouldn't be like that," says Mandy. "I'm the one who should be doing it for them."


Promised Land

The price of our food is driven down and kept down with the help of an army of modern day agricultural serfs.

Migrant workers in a field
Migrant workers are often forced to work long hours for little pay
Most come from Eastern Europe expecting a land of milk and honey.

Promised Land discovers most find themselves in the hands of gangmasters, and end up living on minimal wages in accommodation few of us would put up with.

Two Latvian workers feel too vulnerable to reveal their identities:

"We wouldn't have come if we'd known what it was like," says one.

"There were maybe 30 or 40 people in the house. We had to queue to cook in the kitchen. And it was the same in the bathroom. There were a lot of people in the bedroom and it was very difficult to sleep."

"There was one small window," says the other. "Inside it was filthy and smelly. The room was six metres square with three bunk beds. We couldn't believe this had happened to us."

The two Latvians are in the hands of one of Britain's gangmasters. There are at least 3,000 in the UK.

"We signed a contract in English and we paid them 250. The agency said the contract would give us a job for three months. But that didn't happen. It was not regular work, not every day."

After deductions for things like food and accommodation, some workers earn as little as 10 per week, but those who complain can find themselves out of work and homeless.

By doing jobs we refuse to do, for wages most of us would find unacceptable, migrant workers play a vital role in our economy. But the pressure to keep prices low has condemned many to a life of modern slavery.


The Child Trade

The UN estimates 1.2 million children worldwide are trafficked every year. And its thought that thousands end up here in the UK, with more arriving all the time.

Child in silhouette
Human trafficking has become a global problem
The victims of human trafficking are unwilling or unknowing. Some children are forced to come here - others are enticed with false promises.

Elizabeth grew up with her grandparents in Nigeria. Her happy childhood changed after her 13th birthday.

Her aunt who lived in England promised her a better life and arranged for her to come here.

She ended up working as a child slave, getting up at 4am in the morning and working until after midnight. She worked a 21 hour day looking after her aunt's children, doing the housework and cooking the meals.

Elizabeth says she was also physically abused by her aunt:

"She beat me with a mop stick. One day she threw hot water on me - she had called me and I didn't hear her so she came into the kitchen. She said how many times did I have to scream your name before you answered and then she flung the hot water on my face."

Elizabeth was eventually allowed to go to school after neighbours threatened to call in social services.

She is now at college, and has moved away from her aunt but is too frightened to prosecute. She hopes to go on to university to do nursing.

Elizabeth's story is not unusual. Human trafficking is a global problem.

It has become the third biggest criminal business worldwide after drug trafficking and the trafficking of weapons.

It is a crime shrouded in secrecy and women and children are the primary commodities.


Dirty Work

Domestic service is big business in Britain, and it is not just the rich who have servants today.

Darriatou says she earned 100 a month working as a servant
Behind closed doors, there is an army of workers cooking, cleaning and nannying.

Most domestic servants are well treated, but Dirty Work finds some end up as modern day slaves, under curfew and held captive.

Darriatou came to England from Senegal on a fake passport.

Once here she was used as a domestic servant in her employer's three bedroom council flat.

She says she got 100 a month and claims for the first year and a half she was a prisoner in the flat. She says her employers would threaten her with voodoo curses in order to keep her under control.

Her former employer says she did not come to England on fake papers, but that it was someone else who trafficked her here and dismisses her fears as nonsense.

Darriatou was rescued after four years by a good Samaritan and is now seeking asylum in Britain.

Around 300,000 people arrive in the UK each year in the hope of finding work. Of those around 10,000 are arriving legally in the UK to work as domestic servants.

They are drawn to the UK by the promise of high wages in hard currency and many send money to families back home.

Many work very long days up to 15 hours or more and earn under 200 a month.

The government is in the process of changing the rules on immigration.

Under the new guidelines, migrant domestics will be restricted to six month visas, and they will not be able to change employers if they encounter problems.

Campaigners say this will drive more domestic work underground, leaving the workers themselves without protection against abuse.

A study by the charity Kalayaan found almost half of those working in private households say they have been locked in.

Britain's Streets of Slavery will be broadcast from Monday 27 to Thursday 30 March 2006 at 0915 BST on BBC One.

Producers: Jeremy Monblat, Alicia Arce, Chris Boulding and James Giles.

Series Producer: Subniv Babuta

Executive Producer: Paul Woolwich

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