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Bridging the Gap Between the Commercial Sex Trade and Drug Services

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Presentation on theme: "Bridging the Gap Between the Commercial Sex Trade and Drug Services"— Presentation transcript:

1 Bridging the Gap Between the Commercial Sex Trade and Drug Services
We believe in people’s capacity to change

2 Who we are.. Blenheim Evolve is a FREE, SPECIALIST Stimulant, club drug and cannabis service in Southwark: One-to-one key working Club Drug Clinic SMART recovery Drop-In Women’s only service Needle Exchange One-to-one sessions for families and carers A skilled team of drug practitioners

3 Mind the Gap… “It’s not easy, sometimes appointments
get cancelled, or you have to wait ages in the reception and that can be a trigger for people. You get stressed as well waiting and then that just makes you want to go out and use more drugs” “If women are not ready to reduce their drug use or go to rehab they are lost to services….” “It’s so hard for me to get to morning appointments when I’ve been on road all night, so I just don’t go…” “It’s difficult to wait for my appointment with men there.” “It is crucial to have a good drugs worker who is flexible to women’s needs, punitive straightjacket rehabilitation doesn’t work” “I really fear being judged, it’s hard enough talking about the drug use…” “This client group is seen as expensive, there’s no room for their complexity..”

4 Why the Gap? Not recognising how heterogeneous the Commercial Sex Trade is. Is Sex Work, work? Or is it gendered violence? Glamorised or stigmatised.. Polarised morals.. Is providing services supporting prostitution? How to establish need? Where’s the guidance and policy? Unhelpful and confusing legal framework

5 Let’s Focus… Women in Street Based Prostitution are 12x more likely to be murdered (VAWG, 2013) In a study interviewing 83 women involved in the London Commercial Sex Trade: 72% of women reported one or more current psychological and/or physical health problem 65% of women had experienced violence from a punter in the last year. 35% from a partner. 82% reported past or current involvement with CJS 64% of women reported being homeless or in temporary accommodation 71% of women had children Cripplingly low self-esteem/ loss of self Bindel, Breslin & Brown, 2013

6 In more detail.. Societal Stigmas.. Prostitution and Drug Use:
“I lack confidence, I feel like sometimes everybody can tell that I’m on drugs and that I might be selling myself. No self-esteem, I feel worthless. I’m out there doing something society frowns upon. I’ve got a lot of shame and guilt that I’m doing it.” DrugScope & Ava, 2013 What biases do we as drugs practitioners hold? Can we comfortably talk about sex? – What training do we provide to staff? (Chemsex..)


8 Confusing Legal Framework:
Prostitution is legal – But: Soliciting, kerb crawling, sex in a public toilet, disorderly behaviour, keeping a brothel are offences.. 11% ↑in custodial sentences 88% for non-violent crimes (VAWG 2013)

9 How to establish need? “..the Drug Treatment Outcomes Research Study (2007) found that 10% of women commencing drug treatment said they had exchanged sex for money, drugs or something else in the past four weeks. While this may encompass more than what might be strictly defined as street-based prostitution, it does indicate that the group is likely to be sizeable.” DrugScope & Ava 2013 Women involved in Street Based Prostitution are virtually absent from all current policy.. The words: “Prostitution” “Sex Work” “Woman” and “Woman or Girl” are completely absence from the 2010 National Drug Strategy… The VAWG Strategy 2013 states that the VAWG panel will be drawing up “Commissioning Guidelines”..

10 Changing Demographics:
Rapid increase in non-British women selling street based sex in London, evidence of women and girls under 18yrs selling sex in London. And evidence of women moving between on-street and off-street sites. Bindle, Breslin & Brown, 2013 Thai Women and Girls known to services in Westminster, being given Crystal Meth to work and brought to the UK with no legal status – No recourse to public funds. Eastern European Women using cocaine and alcohol, the market is such that “Partying” is a key aspect of being booked for work. One service reported how these women would find accessing a drug service particularly difficult as they would not identify themselves with other drug users.


12 Good Practice Guide… Relationships and trust are key to engaging this client group.. Staff training – challenging the assumptions Flexible/evening opening hours Women’s only provision – really important. Outreach – condoms, NX, relationship building.. Childcare provision (or links to) Actively advertise that you work with this client group (Learning from LGBT inclusive practice?) Peer support and telephone support

13 Good referral pathways and partnership links with housing, sexual health, Domestic Violence services, Community Mental Health Teams, GP Surgeries and Employment, Education and Training services. In a time of stretched resources are there joint commissioning decisions which can be made, what partnership work can be done? Provide a range of treatment options.. Harm reduction and Exiting.. Who’s agenda is it?

14 And Finally… I would like to say a big thank you to:
The English Collective of Prostitutes St Mungos Palace Road SPIRES (Jenny & Pam) SWISH The Praed Street Project (Jane Ayres) SHOC (Haringey)

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