Adam and Darius were ‘recruited’ in their home country of Romania by a local man promising work in Northern Ireland as apple pickers. A nice place to stay and well-paid jobs, they were told. The offer seemed too good to pass up on, as both men were out of work, so they agreed. But nothing was as promised.

Their home was an old caravan in a field, with no toilet and no running water. And they were expected to share it with three other people. They didn’t even have their own beds. Everyone worked different shifts, so when they came back, others went to work, and they got a few hours to sleep.

But, desperate for work, they stayed, hoping things would get better. They didn’t. Working up to 16 hours a shift, they still only got £20 a day. But out of that, traffickers demanded money for transport and accommodation, leaving them with just £10 a week. They were given only out-of-date food to eat and so had to scavenge in bins for extras.

When the apple picking season ended they were told they still owed money. The traffickers demanded they shoplift goods to pay their debts. When they refused they were threatened with violence.

They were penniless. But they still took the chance to go to the police.

“We came here to work. We are not criminals. We were desperate for work, but we knew it was wrong. We had to do something.”

From there, they were put in touch with Migrant Help. Adam was so frightened he asked to be sent home to Romania. He had, had enough. But Darius wanted to stay. He was given clean clothes, some money and a room to help him get back on his feet. He also took English lessons at a church in Belfast.

Now he lives independently, has a job and is building a close circle of friends.