The New Futures Project

Vera Friday-Isenyo

‘I Was Astounded By Their Courage And Tenacity’ – A Student’s View Of The Women Supported By New Futures

There are carers and there are carers who go that little bit further.

I can say with certainty that the people I work with here at the New Futures Project go above and beyond to offer second-to-none support to the women and young people they are here to help.

They are a team of case workers and social workers who provide assessment, support planning and advice to women and young people from a range of backgrounds.

This includes street and sauna-based sex-workers, asylum-seekers, adults and young people with experience of human slavery or trafficking, those who are being sexually exploited or those who are simply impoverished.

The people here do this by providing practical and therapeutic support and counselling services to clients from Leicester and the wider area of Leicestershire and Rutland.

They approach this by offering one-to-one support in a trauma-informed and non-judgmental manner.

Also, they offer holistic support by providing a wraparound service that focuses on safety and recovery, including one-on-one practical and emotional support, supported and co-ordinated referrals, access to free in-house counselling, education and support to help women have more choices.

The project, which is entirely dependent on the generosity of its funders and donors, also offers drop-in sessions with wellbeing and mental health support, and long-term support.

New Futures also supports women who decides to continue participating in sex work, simultaneously assisting them in making positive changes in their lives, supporting them in making steps towards leaving sex work.

The project runs a rehabilitation programme that includes education and training, counselling, specialist support such as the Freedom Programme, assistance with job and volunteering options, and therapeutic group work.

New Futures also provides an outreach programme that patrols the city centre locations where the women work to assist anyone who appears vulnerable and to provide support to them.

It works closely within The Care Act (2014), the Modern Slavery Act, (2015), the Human Rights Act (1998), the Children Act (1989; 2004) and the Sexual Offences Act (2003) on cases of Child Sexual Exploitation, (CSE).

Furthermore, the project incorporates a variety of theories and methodologies when working with clients, including the Person-Centred Approach, Solution-Focused Approach, Attachment Theory, Task-Centred Approach, Systems Theory, Strengths-Based Practice, Feminist Theory and Merton’s Strain Theory; reflecting on these practices in social work allows NFP to practise anti-oppressively through relationship-based practice, ensuring the client’s voice is heard and they are empowered. 

I’m having a good time here. Despite the fact that it is a non-statutory placement, there are several statutory-related practices in the project that I get to conduct and I appreciate the challenge of putting my understanding of legislation – such as the Mental Health Act and the Care Act – from lectures and training to use in the placement.

These and other Acts are used in the project, which I found extremely intriguing, and the assistance you get from all colleagues while aiding clients with court cases and other caseloads is interesting.

My practice educator and supervisor are amazing; they provide assistance every time I contact them. When I need help in supporting my clients or with paperwork, there is always someone who can help……and they do so without prejudice or sentiment. 

During my individual supervision with my practice educator and supervisor, I also receive support with my caseload and personal life. The empathy you receive regarding your personal life is commendable. 

Without being biased, I am confident that I have the best supervisor and practice educator….I am so fortunate to have them.

Another feature of this placement that I appreciate is the project’s diversity; there is no prejudice, segregation, nepotism or favouritism, and what you see is exactly how it is.

My understanding of various legislation, theories and models, and interventions has tremendously improved, and it is incredible to support service-users who have experienced injustices, women who have been incarcerated, children who have been sexually exploited.

The project is also able to supporting clients with practical, emotional, and crisis support during drop-in hours. 

This drop-in session allows service users to feel at home, have a meal or drink, meet with a staff member for a friendly chat or a more formal counselling session, and even go home with a food parcel and a change of clothes.

I believe this is a wonderful support session for service users because some of them are homeless and the project provides assistance to meet their daily basic needs.

I am still undergoing the placement, but my skills in relationship-based practice, strengths-based approach, and multidisciplinary teamwork have substantially improved and I am looking forward to gaining more knowledge and experience from the placement as the list is inexhaustible.

Overall, the placement is both humbling and inspiring to work with the women. Despite the difficulties they had faced, I was astounded by their courage and tenacity.

Building trust and rapport with them was critical, and I quickly learned the value of active listening and creating a safe space for open communication. 

I have been able to participate in case management and advocacy work. Working with multi-agency partners such as housing services, mental health organisations, and legal aid enabled me to experience the potential of a holistic approach to addressing women’s needs.

This experience demonstrated the importance of interprofessional teamwork and the benefit of a broad support network. 

The women’s initiative not only broadened my understanding of the issues confronting vulnerable women, but it also reaffirmed my commitment to social work and activism.

It emphasised the significance of trauma-informed practice, cultural sensitivity, and acknowledging the uniqueness of each person’s path. 

As a project that assists women with a variety of problems, the list is endless, I look forward to applying what I have learned in my profession and endeavours.

New Futures was set up more than 20 years ago to support women involved in sex work.

However, we have evolved into a welfare and counselling service for women and young people dealing with sexual abuse or exploitation – frequently involving domestic violence, trafficking, poverty and debt, substance use or mental ill-health.

Call us on 0116 251 0803 or send us a message at:

You can find us at 71 London Road, Leicester, LE2 0PE.

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