Lothian Labour and Co-op MSP Kezia Dugdale has urged employers to consider supporting a scheme to support victims of trafficking and modern slavery.
Ms Dugdale has lodged a parliamentary motion praising the Co-op Group’s Bright Future programme which provides survivors with a four-week paid work placement, and the possibility of a job offer at the end of the process.
A victim of modern slavery called Frank (not his real name) is set to become the first in Scotland to be offered a permanent job, working for the Co-operative Group in Edinburgh.
In November 2014, Frank was unemployed and living in Romania with his wife and young family when he was contacted by a childhood friend living in the UK.
He put Frank in touch with someone who offered him employment and accommodation in the UK. About two weeks later he was sent a ticket for a flight to Glasgow and was met at the airport by a male who took him to an address in the city.
Within weeks of arriving in Glasgow he was forced, under the threat of violence to him and his family, to open bank accounts for the group to use.
He eventually decided to sell all his belongings in order to fund a deposit for a flat of his own with a reputable landlord. He changed his telephone number several times so the group could not contact him. He decided to contact the police and was put in touch with Migrant Help who provided him with support.
Ms Dugdale, said: “Trafficking and modern slavery are among the most heinous crimes in 21st century Scotland. Victims face incredible challenges to rebuild their lives, and struggle in particular to find employment.
“I’m proud to support the Bright Future scheme established by the Co-operative Group to provide survivors with a paid work placement leading to the possibility of a job offer at the end of the process. This could have a transformational impact for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
“I wish Frank well on the scheme in Edinburgh and hope other employers will consider supporting this excellent initiative.”