(L/R): Lord Willy Bach with Natalie Buchanan, Carmel Martin, Rachel Hall, Deborah Taylor, Christine Harris, Mary Draycott, Jewel Miah and Colin Hamilton
Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach has praised the work of a ground-breaking drop-in facility providing vital support and health checks to sex workers in Loughborough.
The PCC is investing £24,121 into the new project, led by Falcon Support Services, over the next 12 months which will provide a safe place for sex workers to access support, preventative advice and health services to keep them safe.
The Bell Foundry estate in Loughborough is one of three new People Zones launched by the PCC to bring different agencies and community groups together to tackle the problems specific to their areas.
This project, which will receive a further £24,779 by the PCC in its second year, has involved the launch of a drop-in facility for sex workers in the area, helping them access specialist advice and help relating to housing, substance misuse, offending, welfare and benefits guidance, specialist preventative services including free contraception/pregnancy testing and links with GU clinics, Hep C screening and First Aid training. The centre will also provide laundry facilities, access to clothes/toiletries and food supplies, and hot food and drinks from the kitchen.
The PCC visited the centre this week for an insight into how the new service is building positive relationships with this community in order to continue offering support.
Willy Bach said: “This project is a shining example of the partnership work taking place to provide essential advice and support to women whose lives leave them vulnerable to considerable risk of violence and harm.
“It is estimated there are around 30 sex workers in this particular area although the exact scale of the issue is unknown due to the chaotic and transient nature of this community. What we do know is that there are a whole host of contributing social, economic and health problems which increase the risks of exploitation impacting on these women and this is something we are very serious about addressing.
“I am very impressed with the way Falcon Support Services is responding to these women and providing a lifeline which did not exist previously. Prior to this scheme, there were no services specific to sex workers in the area and this project very much supports my preventative goals and ambition to support people to transform their lives, when they are ready.
“I’m very much looking forward to the outcomes of this project in its first full year and building on the work already undertaken to give these women a safer future.”
Rachel Hall, Service Development Manager for Falcon Support Services said, “We are pleased to provide a new service in the area to meet the needs of those involved in sex work. The financial support from funders has made this service a reality and the involvement of partner agencies means we will be able to provide a diverse range of support to positively impact the lives of vulnerable people.”
Cllr Deborah Taylor, lead member for communities at Charnwood Borough Council, said: “I am pleased to see this worthwhile scheme up and running. The Council has also offered financial support to the project to ensure help, advice and support is available to these vulnerable members of our community.”
Thanks to funding from the PCC and other funding bodies, the drop-in centre, called ‘The Annex’, is being opened weekly on Wednesdays 10am – 2pm, Fridays 2pm – 6pm and Sundays 4pm – 8pm-and will provide two staff. However, project leaders plan to expand the service, increasing opening hours and providing a health care assistant on-site in its second year to complete basic health checks, address sexual health issues and assist with registration to GP surgeries to ultimately improve access to primary care and reduce emergency admissions at A&E.
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Posted on Tuesday 17th September 2019