“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Lila Watson, Aboriginal Activist
The women we support are from amongst the most vulnerable in society, drawn into prostitution as a means of survival rather than ‘lifestyle choice’, and battling a range of issues such as childhood abuse, family breakdown, poverty and homelessness. All face a daily risk of violence and harm on the streets, and moving forward with their lives without dedicated support is extremely difficult.
Each week staff and volunteers go out on the street between 10pm and 2am on Friday evenings and 5am and 8am on Thursday mornings to offer support; we provide hot drinks,sexual health support and signposting to local services.
During the day we provide practical support across a range of areas relevant to the women’s lives. This includes providing information, advocacy and referrals to specialist organisations and agencies, as well as befriending and mentoring.
Change and transformation
Outreach is usually the place where initial contact is made and relationships of trust begin to be formed. Offering a friendly face and a ‘listening ear’, over the years we have come to be seen as a positive presence on the streets, which has helped many of the women feel comfortable to share with us what they are going through and ask for the help they need to make the changes so many of them long for.
Engaging at whatever the point of need with compassion and understanding, we seek to help by offering support and encouraging personal growth, health and wholeness.
Whilst the process varies for each woman, we have been privileged to see many make significant changes to their situations, some gradually leaving prostitution altogether and going on to build new lives.
We work to signpost women to local support and work with other agencies to give women a range of options. Below is a service directory from Tower Hamlets council which may be of use.
Tower Hamlets - Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) service directory