For over 20 years our Streetlink project has worked with Preston street sex workers …
Streetlink is historically the name given to The Foxton Centre’s outreach and intensive support work with vulnerable women, some of whom are engaged in street sex work. The work was funded by Lancashire County Council Public Health. This is a reduced service from previous years in terms of a direct Streetlink offer however during the year we were able to expand and develop a wider ranging offer. We are now able to accommodate seven women across the two houses. Out of the seven women recently accommodated, five are reported to have been directly involved in street sex work, whilst all seven are believed to have been involved in some form of survival sex.
The first house opened in 2020 and despite limited resources as a direct result of the pandemic, we have been fully occupied with women who would alternatively have struggled to access and maintain accommodation. In preparation for the project becoming operational, we used the “Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE)” approach many looking at the surroundings, Furnishing the house in a very relaxed, warm inviting way. Careful consideration given to wording on vital signage throughout the house to ensure it feels non-institutional, welcoming and safe. Operating from a trauma informed perspective, the residents experience an open-door policy from staff who are office based within the property.
The service prides itself that many of the women accommodated are working alongside staff in retaining their accommodation and working with a range of support services. For some individuals, this is the most stability we have witnessed in many years.
We have developed stronger links with agencies working with women involved in the criminal justice system. We have been completing assessments with women whilst they are still in prison in preparation for their release. This has enabled us to better support them into accommodation following release with the aim of preventing them from having to return to the streets.
We are currently looking at developing a strategic female lead sub advisory board for the women’s services. The aim is to bring together a group of passionate, knowledgeable, influential women from varying yet relevant professional backgrounds who can positively influence the direction of the women’s services. This will also open our options in terms of approaching funders who specify that the service is female led.
It is hoped that in 2021/22 further funding will be secured to develop the service and we have recently completed a review of the work undertaken to inform our thinking moving forward.
We have recently secured funding from the Police and Crime commissioner to support this work