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Nottingham prostitution charity works with 300 sex workers a year

Published in The Nottingham Post
30th December 2016


Notts
A Radford-based charity is a 'one-stop shop' providing support for Nottingham's sex workers. POW works with 300 sex workers a year – the majority of whom are women – and works mostly from its drop-in centre.

Daniela Scotece, chief executive of the charity, said: "Anyone who comes into POW does so on a voluntary basis. People might just want to come to get something warm to eat – we cook on Tuesdays and Thursdays. People might come to get a shower. We've got a clothes bank, which is probably one of our most tapped into facility. We offer sexual health screening which includes HIV testing. We also offer contraception and family planning."

The charity has always been geared towards traditional on-street sex workers but there has been a decrease in that approach to prostitution in Nottingham in recent years.

However, Miss Scotece said that all on-street sex workers in the city are addicted to Class A drugs and require their support more than ever. She said: "We have a drugs treatment clinic on a Thursday afternoon. Should we engage with someone on the street who is addicted to Class A, we have a rapid prescribing clinic."

POW also works closely with off-street sex workers, which could be someone who works from their own home, and visits them to offer sexual health screening and support.

One service user, who asked not to be named, said: "POW has been such a crutch for me - it really has. It's supported me with clothing, food, somewhere to go, toiletries, it's helped me with loads of different things. I have been on the beat working and they have been there in the van and they have had condoms which I think is really, really helpful."

Another service user, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: "If I haven't been to the POW centre, they send a text to say that they've got a BBQ and you think, you know what I can have the BBQ and I can do some activities and at the same time get my pill.

"None of us want to be sent a text saying, 'We are here to give you condoms and to give you a lecture', no one wants to hear that sort of thing.

"They say, 'We have got someone coming in to do nails', and it encourages them to come here. And even if you don't open up first time, you start to talk and open up and then the staff are there listening, and that is where they push you in the right directions."

POW doesn't just support sex workers. It also conducts research into various issues relating to prostitution. As part of this, the charity recently secured funding for a project that will look at the use of the internet to advertise the sale of sex.

Miss Scotece said: "We're looking at who uses it, why they use it and we've been asking our service users for their input and opinions. We contact over 400 online sex workers per month."

It has also secured funding for a project looking into the sexual exploitation of looked-after children. Miss Scotece said the work is particularly important because 70 per cent of the on-street sex workers engaging with the charity were sexually exploited as children.

She said: "It may be years ago that people were labelled or criminalised when really they were child victims of exploitation. What we want to do is work with people who high-end risk and provide early intervention and preventative work."