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Safer Streets funding preventing sex worker vulnerability


Rose Curl, Caroline Henry and Noreen Saddique

A Nottingham based organisation has been given funding to help its work supporting vulnerable women in the sex worker community.

POW Nottingham is a charity based in Radford which offers a range of help and advice to those working within the sex industry, supporting online and off-street workers, students, under 25s and LGBTQ+ workers.

They work with hard-to-reach people who are vulnerable through issues including drug dependency, coercion and exploitation.

Safer Streets is supporting POW through funding the outreach work of two members of staff to prevent them coming to harm.

The outreach sessions run three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings in a specially equipped van to engage with on-street workers.

In these sessions, they provide food, harm minimisation supplies such as clean needles and foils, support with incident reporting as well as general advice and signposting to relevant services.

They also hand out other essential items such as warm clothes, umbrellas, gloves and hot drinks.

POW can also undertake some sexual health screening in their van for those who find it difficult to access sexual health services.

As well as providing safety resources for the service users, it also gives POW the opportunity to gain latest information about risky and harmful drugs or people so they can further protect the community from potential harm.

Rose Curl, police liaison officer at POW, said: “Outreach is one of the best ways to gain first contact with clients. We are in their environment and we maintain and create great connections.

“We can find out if there has been any violence, get a lot of information about dodgy drugs going round which we can then feed back and we get to see what the crises are so we can support and refer to other services.

“It’s a really big focus to myth-bust and create an understanding about people who have multiple disadvantages. The outreach is essential because we reach a lot of people that would otherwise be unsafe and there would be a lot more violence.

“I don’t think we could thank people enough for the funding because we do some essential work at night, supporting really vulnerable young women.

“On these really cold nights we’ve been having they’ll come sit in the van. They are exhausted so to just come and sit and have a chat with 10 minutes of safety and respite is really essential.”

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire secured £3 million from the Home Office’s Safer Streets fund in the summer and has been working with partners across the county, including Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire Police, to implement a range of schemes to tackle neighbourhood crime, antisocial behaviour and violence against women and girls.

Jessica Brannan, Chief Executive Officer for POW, said: “Safer Streets funding has allowed organisations with different skills set to come together and work in partnership to address a common issue and focus their efforts on specific areas in need.

“Being part of the bid has increased our networks and allowed for new initiatives and learning from other organisations.”

In addition to the Safer Streets funding, last year POW’s safeguarding project POW received hidden harm thematic grant, which works in partnership with the police, Modern Slavery team and local services to increase safety and reduce harm for vulnerable community members in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “One of Safer Streets main focuses is supporting causes around violence against women and girls. POW is a key example of an organisation that is tackling these issues within a specific, vulnerable community.

“The outreach work that Safer Streets is funding is vital and potentially lifesaving, and POW are doing an incredible job of giving these women the best possible support available.”

Posted on Monday 20th March 2023
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