Our experience supporting women working in prostitution supports the Home Office National Guidance in recognising that supporting sex workers with contributory factors is essential prior to facilitating access to alternative employment, training, education and eventually to achieve a successful and sustained exit from prostitution.
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 a caseload of women who have expressed a desire to exit prostitution and are prepared to complete a long-term programme of support. 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.
We coordinate support from specialist services such as drug services, health and mental health services, providing advocacy and facilitating engagement by arranging and accompanying to appointments. Our case-managers hold regular updates with other professionals involved in each client’s case ensuring support is consistent and appropriate. Throughout the stabilisation and exiting process our case-managers continue to provide emotional support and aftercare.
A key factor in supporting women to exit prostitution is developing their life skills, knowledge and education/employment skills. To achieve this we run a life skills training course to those involved in the programme. Courses are delivered by our case-managers and include sessions about budgeting, managing tenancies, benefits, domestic violence, remaining drug/alcohol free, child care and building positive relationships. 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.