The Domestic Workers Fleeing Modern Slavery in the UK
During lockdown overseas domestic workers became even more vulnerable to abuse, but one woman is helping them escape.It is just after 7am on a rainy morning in July and 57-year-old Sheila Tilan is pacing up and down a private road that leads to one of London’s most exclusive streets.
She is wearing white trousers and a black shirt, just as she said she would.
Joggers pass by and a security guard sits in a nearby cabin, guarding a gate that leads to multi-million-pound mansions.
Sheila pretends to talk on her mobile phone so as not to draw attention to herself.
About an hour later, a tiny woman carrying a schoolgirl’s backpack and wearing baggy pink trousers emerges from one of the houses.
She walks towards Sheila and the two embrace briskly. They have been in telephone contact for some weeks, but this is the first time they have met.
“Sorry, I had to make breakfast,” Florence* says in a whisper.
But this morning would be different because the night before she had packed her belongings into the backpack and resolved to wear the three pairs of trousers and four t-shirts she could not cram into it.