Like so many before her and others to come, drug use was her path to sex work.
However, now 33 and expecting a child, she is living a more stable life than she has for years.
Instead, she is using a heroin substitute rather than the real thing and is no longer doing street work.
A regular face at our weekly drop-in, she looks back on the difficulties which have characterised most of her adult life – until now, that is – and explains how the New Futures Project has been central to the changes she has made and how it is and is helping her move forward.
She says: “I started smoking heroin and crack when I was very young, I’d say 18 or 19.
“One of the girls I went to college with smoked weed and one time she told me she smoked heroin too.
“I said ‘let me try some’, but she said I shouldn’t touch it.
“I did try it though and the first time I had it I felt sick. My friend said ‘I told you that would happen.”
But she persevered and became addicted, leading to periods of homelessness and the daily challenge of finding the cash she needed to buy drugs.
“It was not nice. I started going to crack houses. It was horrible.”
Eventually, as her drug use became more entrenched, she decided to turn to sex work, asking working women she knew for guidance.
“The girls told me they would not take me to the beat or even tell me where it was because it was too dangerous,” she recalls.
“I wouldn’t have ended up where I am now if I’d done what they said.”
Over the years, New Futures has highlighted the shocking level of violence the women are subjected to – and she has a number of her own tales to tell.
“I’ve been assaulted quite a few times. Most of the women I know have,” she says.
“One in particular should have stopped me working. A guy picked me up in Kent Street and said he was going to take me out into the country, a car park in Shady Lane.
“When we got there he said he had no money. He slapped me in the face and said ‘you’d better do what I say’.
“I said I’d do it but only with protection. It was not very nice.
“Afterwards he drove off and left me there in the middle of nowhere. Most of the women have had that kind of thing happen to them.”
She is currently living in a flat near the city centre but is desperate to get on with her life, ideally in a new home in a quieter spot.
She says: “I can come to New Futures to get something to eat and have a shower and a change of clothes.
“I like the workers here. I like the way they treat you with respect and will do everything they can to help me and all the other women.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find us at 71 London Road, Leicester, LE2 0PE.