We’re proud to announce that The Big Lottery Fund has awarded us £499,793 to expand a project supporting women involved in on and off-street sex work in Gloucester and Swindon. These women are extremely vulnerable, and in very real danger of violence and exploitation, but we’ve been running a late night drop-in twice a week in the red-light districts of both towns. This new boost will enable us to extend our reach across Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and increase the drop-ins to three nights a week. Each week, the team provides everything from nutritious food and drink to clothes and toiletries, safety advice, sexual health information, alarms and condoms. More importantly, there is a listening ear. These women are deeply isolated and stigmatised, but now, with our joined-up approach, they will have an open door to a supportive community and much-needed practical and emotional support at our two award-winning Women’s Centres. Ultimately, we aim to get them into their specialist abstinence-based residential rehabilitation, bringing healing from trauma and freedom from the past.
Catherine Oadley, Head of Development, explains the difference that this funding will make: ‘these women are under the radar and ignored by society; they are at risk and so vulnerable to violence. They’re out there because they have a Class A drug addiction. Our professionals can help them address underlying needs and past trauma. We have had such incredible support, and now this extra funding will help us grow, with a new sexual health clinic and more support workshops. We are so thankful to The Big Lottery Fund for enabling us to reach more women in Gloucestershire and get them the support they need to turn their lives around. We really do need volunteers to join our team.’
This pioneering women’s service has also been made possible over the last few years by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Lankelly Chase. The SWOP team collaborates with all local services to make this happen and if you are interested in volunteering, please contact Kate Lewis on email@example.com for Gloucestershire or Jess Halsall on firstname.lastname@example.org for Wiltshire.
Photo: Gloucester sex worker outreach team prepares for drop-in.
Left to right: Carol Gilbert (volunteer from Ecclesiastical Insurance Group), Pat Gifford (vicar), Kate Lewis (Sex Worker Outreach Worker in Gloucester), and Ros Middlecote (volunteer from Ecclesiastical Insurance Group) Photo: © Ruth Jones Photography
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