Classic British soap Coronation Street is to bring attention to human trafficking in a new storyline set to air on Monday.
The soap, which has been broadcasting for nearly 60 years, worked with the Salvation Army on the storyline, who put them in touch with trafficking victim J to help depict the story as realistically and sensitively as possible.
Across the UK it is thought that up to 136,000 people find themselves trapped in forced labour or trafficked and exploited for sex.
Weatherfield regular Seb Franklin (played by Harry Visinoni) falls for nail salon worker Alina (portrayed by Romanian actor Ruxandra Porojnicu). He will later discover that she is a victim of human trafficking.
Producer Colin McLeod said: “In many towns and cities across Britain, people are being forced to work against their will, living in extreme poverty and in fear for their safety, all so ruthless criminal gangs can get rich at their expense.”
While common perceptions of slavery are of physical violence and intimidation being used to control a victim, some are deliberately pushed into debt and forced to rely on false promises from traffickers. are put to work in construction, farming, nail bars, car washes and hotels.
“Modern slavery looks really different to the common perception of it,” said victim J, who advised show producers and actors. “It might challenge people’s idea of what trafficking is.”
She believes that the modern slavery storyline is a positive step by the soap with great potential for raising awareness of human trafficking among viewers.
There are currently around 1,450 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.
The show is set to demonstrate the role coercive control plays in trapping victims of modern slavery.
Earlier this month it was revealed that one app had uncovered more than 900 instances of forced labour in car washes.
It was found that 41 per cent of the 2,000 reports issued through the app were likely to be modern slavery, due to signs like the lack of suitable protective clothing that was apparent in almost half of cases. A cash-only policy was used in 80 per cent of cases.
Up to eight per cent of car washes had minors working as many as 17 per cent of reports highlighted fearful workers.
Last year Coronation Street was lauded for its portrayal of hidden homelessness through character Sean Tully who was laid off from his factory job and left sofa-surfing.