Our work includes:
- Making contact with women working in street prostitution in the areas where they work. Offering refreshments & support, which is non judgmental and confidential
- Distributing free provision of condoms, lubricants, personal alarms and ‘clean works’ to maximise the health and safety of the women
- Providing advice, information/support on a broad range of health and personal safety related issues inc signposting/referral of women to other agencies where appropriate i.e. drug services, housing
- Self swabbing (Chlamydia & gonorrhea screening) pregnancy testing and support
- Assault report scheme including providing women with information & descriptions about dangerous ‘dodgy punters’ (provided by the police & users of our service), as well as reporting assaults on the women’s behalf
- Follow up support re issues raised on outreach i.e. support to attend court
- Referral to the REST project (Recovery & exit support team)
- Representing SWWOP on various multi-agency bodies e.g. Safer Children’s Board to ensure the needs and views of women are taken into account in the discussion and decision making of other agencies.
Women working in street prostitution experience serious risks to their health through violence, drugs & unsafe sexual practices. This often leads to longer term effects on their welfare through the difficulties they can find in accessing broader opportunities such as education, training and secure employment.
There is also a conflict between the women’s lifestyle and the way agencies operate, from appointment systems to opening hours, stereotyping, prejudice and different values, also many of the women do not want to be identified as being involved in the sex industry. By providing street based outreach and drop-in sessions and working alongside this vulnerable group, it is hoped to directly improve their health and that of the wider population via ‘the punter’ and to break down barriers to the women accessing services.
In addition to providing direct services to clients, SWWOP has a key role as an advocate for this group. At a national level, SWWOP contributes to policy development and at a local level we play an important role in facilitating sensitive negotiations between communities and agencies about the local effects of street prostitution, providing a line of communication to and from the women themselves. This communication helps local agencies and residents understand more about the women’s lives and needs & this is where the training packages and media coverage are important. SWWOP also works with other agencies to ensure effective co-ordination of services to individual women and liaise closely with the police to improve the safety of the women.