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Exploited immigrant workers ‘paid £5 per day’ in Bradford
Exploited workers in Bradford are struggling to feed themselves while being forced to work for little or no pay, say project workers.
A project handing out free meals on the streets has seen Eastern European immigrants turning to them for food because they were being paid as little as £5 a day by exploitative employers.
Streetwise is run by a 20-strong team of volunteers, who go out on to the streets of Bradford to dish out hot food and sandwiches to those in need twice a week. It is run as an outreach project by the Life Church, in Wapping Road.
The team has seen a huge rise in the number of Eastern European immigrants turning to them for help.
Project leader, Les Szpakowski, said while some of them were struggling because they were out of work, it had become clear that others were being exploited and on two or three occasions Streetwise had had to contact an anti-trafficking organisation for help.
He said: “We are getting far more Eastern European immigrants over.
“I speak Polish – my mum and dad came over from Poland. At the end of the war, where they lived in Poland had moved into Russia and they had nothing to go back to.”
Mr Szpakowski said a common misconception in Britain was that Eastern European immigrants were coming to the UK to earn a lot of money.
He said: “It doesn’t happen that way. Unfortunately, some of them lose their passports or have their passports stolen, and we end up feeding these guys, because they have no recourse to any money – no benefits.
“We have had people down here, who it is clear are being trafficked. We have contacted Hope For Justice, who are quite a big anti-trafficking organisation and we managed to get some of these people to safety.
“We do see people who will work for a fiver a day, and they’re lucky if they get it. It’s not an easy life for some of these guys.”
As the Telegraph & Argus reported on Wednesday, the project has seen a huge rise in the number of meals it is handing out, and now serves more than 4,000 hot meals and 12,500 sandwiches per year.
Mr Szpakowski said: “We are here because people matter. We don’t judge, because people matter. It’s not about what they’ve done, who they are or the colour of their skin.”