Vulnerable man kept in shed now says he ‘feels good’ and ‘has built his life up’ thanks to City Hearts

A vulnerable man who spent more than four decades in exploitation, has described how he has found peace, and been able to move on with his life following the conviction of his trafficker.

Chris* made the headlines in February as details of his abuse came to light during the trial of one of his exploiters Peter Swailes Jr. The court heard how Chris had been ‘taken in’ by Peter Swailes’ father, also called Peter Swailes, when he was a teenager, but was made to work for little or no pay for more than 40 years.

Chris was discovered by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority sleeping on the floor of a filthy garden shed, with no access to running water, a toilet, or heating. He had untreated injuries, limited access to food, and little understanding of his situation.

Following three years of rehabilitation with City Hearts, Chris is now living in supported accommodation, and has thanked those who contacted the charity following Peter Swailes Jr conviction, to wish him well and send him gifts.

“I am glad it’s all over and done with so I can build my life back up,” he said, after hearing that Peter Swailes Jr had been handed a nine month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

“I feel as good as I have ever before,” he added. “I go out every day and this makes me happy. I go walking. I get the tram to new places and walk to find new things. I have a gardening job now at the allotment. I weed paths and help grow plants. I have my own plot that I want to plant vegetables on.”

Chris was barely literate when he was brought to City Hearts, but his caseworkers encouraged him to go to college and taught him modern life skills, including how to use the internet.

“City Hearts helped me to go to college and pass my first ever course,” Chris said. “They helped me buy my own clothes and learn about DVDs and Netflix. I really like watching films and TV. My favourite is Police Interceptors, I watch it every day.

“Being at City hearts made me happy, and this meant I can build my life back up. I am getting on with everybody where I live and the people who look after me are really nice.

Thank you to everyone for the money and words.”

City Hearts, along with ten other anti-slavery organisations, and supported by MP Peter Bone, wrote to the Attorney General to appeal against the lenient sentence given to Peter Swailes Jr. His sentence is currently under review.

Chris’ story of ‘Rescue and Recovery’ was the subject of a recent online ‘Impact Event’ hosted by City Hearts, which heard from the GLAA, Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner Dame Sara Tornton, and City Hearts CEO Ed Newton. You can re-watch the event here: