The project provides holistic support to women involved in prostitution using a casework system. We provide extensive support as required and women are free to re-engage at any time without the need for re- referral. Once women have been supported by the project, they are always welcome to access us for further support. Although our aim is to provide long term consistent support, predominantly our case work is crisis led and reactive due to the circumstances our clients find themselves in. Typically women access the project for support around domestic violence, rape and sexual violence from punters, emergency housing, support with substance misuse, contact with the criminal justice system, pregnancy and child protection related social care involvement.
The project operates a Drop in for women from 2-6pm, Monday-Thursday. This provides a place for women to come and spend time in a safe, warm environment. The Drop In contains a relaxation area including sofas, chairs and a television. There is a fully equipped kitchen providing fresh home cooked meals and a dining table and chairs. Within the Drop In is a shower room and we ensure there are always supplies of toiletries, clean donated clothes and new underwear. There are washing machines and dryers which women can use to wash clothes and bed linen. We also are a member of Fareshare which enables us to distribute food parcels to our service users. The women are also able to access supplies of clean injecting equipment and condoms, pregnancy testing kits and feminine hygiene products.
In 2016 the project received funding to run an exiting programme for women who wish to leave prostitution and the associated lifestyle. Our exiting programme involves long term holistic work with sex workers using a casework approach. Our case-managers work with each client to agree an individualized care plan which is flexible and user-led focusing on the pathways to re-offending including drug/alcohol use, finance/debt, domestic violence and involvement in the criminal justice system. Using theories of attachment, Motivational Interviewing, behavioural change and solution focused therapy, our case-managers provide specific support relating to prostitution and exploitation. A key factor in supporting women to exit prostitution is developing their life skills. A significant element of this course is the inclusion of the Freedom Programme which is designed to work with women who have or are currently experiencing domestic violence. We use the Freedom Programme to support sex workers to identify abusive/exploitative partners, recognise abusive patterns of behaviour and keep themselves safe. Additionally we deliver basic literacy, numeracy and IT courses aimed at improving access to further education, training and employment opportunities and provide assistance with completing application forms, writing CVs and arranging interviews.
Indoor Sex Workers/Sauna Workers
Women working in indoor settings tend to live less chaotic lives than those working on the street. We provide advice on exiting but also becoming self-employed, legislation, careers and further education and increasingly issues concerning immigration.
Street outreach is conducted two nights a week from 7.45-10.15pm. Outreach is carried out by project staff and experienced volunteers. During street outreach sessions, we drive around areas of the city known to be used for street prostitution making contact with street workers and providing information about dangerous individuals, guidance on safer working practices and distributing condoms. Our outreach workers give out hot drinks and food, monitor which women are working and deal with any immediate health or other emergencies. An important function of the outreach service is to provide a presence on the ‘beat area’ therefore increasing the safety of women working.
The project holds a weekly clinic within Peterborough prison, providing support to women on remand or serving sentences. Peterborough is the receiving prison for women from Leicester both on remand and post sentencing. Some of the women we work with have been involved in prostitution and drug use for many years. This may have increased their exposure to criminal activity and their association with perpetrators of more organised and high profile crime. Consequently, there are a small number of women we support in prison who are serving longer sentences for more serious and violent crimes. We support the women during sentences by helping them identify and access support within the prison, facilitating contact with family and friends and providing essential clothing. We write letters, support family and friends to visit and send in small postal orders for birthdays and Christmas. We also provide court support and help the women understand their rights regarding their imprisonment. We help the women to prepare for release by providing support around identifying and accessing appropriate housing and ensuring women have the appropriate support relating to their substance use.
Support for Eastern European Workers
Within Leicester city we have an increasing number of women from the Eastern European community. Some Eastern European women have become involved in prostitution either through “free choice” or as a result of trafficking. We are currently developing our service to further meet the needs of both E1 and E2 nationals. Although this work is a relatively new service we are currently providing support around domestic violence, trafficking, obtaining financial assistance and accessing mainstream services.