Extra support to help growing number of women selling sex on Merseyside

Red umbrella on the ground

Changing Lives has been awarded £9,500 in extra funding to help protect the growing number of women who are at risk after turning to selling sex on Merseyside.

The award, from Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy, is part of the Ministry of Justice’s package of additional funding to help vulnerable victims through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jay Grech, Area Manager for Changing Lives, said: “During the lockdown period there has been a reduction in support and outreach work, but our Red Umbrella project, which helps protect women selling sex on the street from abuse and exploitation, continued, and offered additional crisis management support.

“We have seen a huge increase in demand for our services across the country with an escalation in sexual exploitation and violence, physical abuse and women resorting to survival sex. We saw an increase in survival sex with new women starting to sell sex and others returning to the scene. This funding allows us to extend the outreach work of our Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVA) at a time when we are seeing an increase in sexual violence and physical abuse.”

The additional Sexual Violence Outreach Support Worker will work directly with people selling sex who are victims of abuse or crime by helping them report the matter to police and navigating their way through the criminal justice system, and support our existing ISVA.

PCC Jane Kennedy said: “Changing Lives does immensely challenging and important work supporting one of the most marginalised groups in our communities.

“Additionally, we know that the Covid-19 epidemic has caused some of the women, who are vulnerable to exploitation by their involvement in selling sex, to be further isolated and at even greater risk from sexual violence. As a result, the support service offered by Changing Lives has been stretched.

“This very welcome emergency funding will enable Changing Lives to provide additional outreach support across the Merseyside area, providing a vital lifeline for women who are at greatest risk, ensuring they are better protected from violence, abuse and exploitation.”

Changing Lives is a nationwide charity helping people facing challenging times make positive change - for good.

The charity supports over 14,000 people annually through 100+ schemes, stretching from Northumberland to Merseyside and the Midlands.

Find out more about Changing Lives.