NOvember Campaign

#NOvemberCampaign: Journey

We are all on a journey, but the women we work with at Door of Hope tend to be on the road less travelled. It’s not a common route and that can make it a lonely road, where it’s rare to bump into people that know and understand you along the way. Being off the beaten track, it’s common for women to encounter regular be bumps in the road, or blocks along the way.

On Door of Hope outreach we see these difficult journeys play out in reality too: with women walking the streets selling sex, or being in transported in cars to clients by those who can control them.

In 2012, research by Eaves released in a report called ‘Breaking down the barriers’ dug into this topic, exploring women’s experiences of leaving prostitution, with a focus on the barriers women experienced on their journey out. They found nine major stumbling blocks for women: problematic substance misuse, debt, housing, mental and physical health issues to name a few. But crucially, what did they find was key to overcoming the barriers? The people and specialist organization’s that journey alongside them. “This research has found that there is a need for formal exiting services to help women out of prostitution and that exit is achievable. Women can and do wish to leave prostitution and express the need for both formal and informal forms of support to do so”

That’s where Door of Hope comes in. Our role is to journey alongside women on the path she is on. We stand alongside women, working at her pace, in her space on the blocks and bumps that she feels hinder her journey out of prostitution. Our team provide the consistent support and reliable advice that she needs to find a lasting route out of prostitution.

This week we consider how we can make sacrifices to our daily journeys to support theirs – donating the money saved from the changes to our commute or regular trips we make or sponsorship we receive to fund the journey out of prostitution that Door of Hope is on with dozens of women in east London.

Stand in solidarity with women this month by taking part in the #NovemberCampaign or by making a gift  of £18 to support the Door of Hope project, for which we hope to raise £18,000 through the #NOvemberCampaign.

 


#NOvemberCampaign: Social

 

This NOvember I am saying ‘no’ to sexual exploitation and violence. This week we are asked to stand with women by giving up something social.

You know when you arrange to meet someone for a night out, you turn up on your own and find they haven’t arrived yet? I adopt a confident air and then resort to looking at my phone rather than appear like a loner. I prefer going together and meeting up with a group of friends, where I feel accepted, part of something. Even if it’s been a tough week, an evening of feeling in the middle can be a comfort. Talking with someone who cares can halve the effect of the problem.

What if every night I found myself waiting alone, knowing that the company of the people I meet and spend time with would compound my loneliness? What if this part of my life was not known to those closest to me, or, worse still, was enforced upon me by them so that I could reach their ‘quota’ for the night? That could make a pleasant night out with friends difficult to find or enjoy. When the Door of Hope team go out on the streets in East London, they meet women who stand alone, for whom isolation is a way of life.

One woman told the team, ‘You can’t have certain circles of friends because you can’t talk about what you do, because society doesn’t accept what you do, or doesn’t want to know what we do.’

When Door of Hope turn up, they do want to know. They bring some solidarity, someone who is bothered. Women have described it as a ‘lifeline’ just to have that friendly contact.

This NOvember, people have chosen to give up something different each week. Why not join us and say ‘NO’ to a night out with friends? If you donate what you save to Beyond the Streets, you could help fund a night’s outreach.

Stand in solidarity with women this month by taking part in the #NovemberCampaign or by making a gift  of £18 to support the Door of Hope project, for which we hope to raise £18,000 through the #NOvemberCampaign.

Miriam works for Beyond the Streets as the Clinical Lead for Beyond Support – our call back service for women involved in prostitution. She is passionate about people’s tough lives being transformed. Miriam is saying no to sugar this #NOvemberCampaign, sponsor her here.


#NOvemberCampaign : Simplicity

‘Live simply, so others can simply live.’

This November I am saying no to sexual exploitation and violence. This week we are asked to strip back by losing one luxury item.

When I think about my life it don’t think of it being filled with luxury. I have a flat, a job, bills to keep on top of, I have friends and family to keep in touch with, a social life, a bit of volunteering here and there. My life, like many of your lives, is complicated but not necessarily luxurious. Juggling all those aspects of my life requires thinking and planning, the choices I need to make to keep it all ticking over.

I can’t help but think how different this is from the life of the women I met when volunteering for Door of Hope in East London. Many people call their lives chaotic or complex but in fact, by my reckoning, they are simple: survival. Their lives are dictated by an all-consuming addiction and often a controlling partner. The money they make provides for their addiction, and often their partners’, and just enough to keep a roof above their head.

They are the victims of a cruel cycle of relentless poverty. Poverty of choice as well as poverty of means.

As I would head home to my warm, safe flat for a snack and then a long sleep they would still be out in the cold, surviving.

I can’t help but think that the complexity of my life is a luxury in itself. I have the space to think about what to buy my friend for their birthday, or what time I need to catch a train to get to my 9am meeting. These things seem mundane, even dull; but in fact illustrate a life luxurious with complexity and choice.

So, what luxury will you give up to live a less complicated life for this week?

Stand in solidarity with women this month by taking part in the #NovemberCampaign or by making a gift  of £18 to support the Door of Hope project, for which we hope to raise £18,000 through the #NOvemberCampaign.

Words by Anna who until recently, volunteered with the Door of Hope project.


#NOvemberCampaign : Comfort

2017, the year we got Trumped and terrorised. Theresa May was re-elected as our leading lady and millions of women marched in the largest worldwide protest in recent history. I’ll remember it as the year that homelessness rose for the sixth year in succession- already up 16% in 2016, researchers are expecting that statistic to double when the data for this year is released.

As an outreach worker for Beyond the Streets Door of Hope project, working on the front line with women who are sexually exploited in London’s East End, our team tend to be the first to notice these trends, reflected in the lives of the women we work with and the stories they share with us.

This year has been a busy one for the Door of Hope team, we’ve seen a sharp rise in the number of women we meet on outreach. In 2016 Door of Hope supported 64 women in total over twelve months. By February 2017 our team had already supported 64 women in the first two months of the year, and have added dozens more to our caseload as the year has progressed. We work with women who became involved in street prostitution as a result of complex vulnerabilities- a last resort response to insurmountable struggles. Most have been pushed to the very edge through poverty, lack of opportunity and social exclusion. Their support needs are varied and wide ranging, but increasingly the common theme we see running through their lives is homelessness.

Here’s the thing about us women: we’re a resourceful bunch. You won’t necessarily see us rough sleeping outside your local station, or queuing for the local night shelter- we’ll do what we need to do to find a safer alternative. For the women Door of Hope supports that’s a night on a 24 hour bus, exchanging sex for a place to stay and, increasingly, sofa surfing- tapping up old friends, distant family and punters for a sofa to sleep on.

A survey of 458 recent or current rough sleepers in England and Wales undertaken by Crisis confirms this. It suggests that there is a total of 68,000 women in temporary accommodation, emergency shelters and sleeping on the streets. However, Crisis follow this was a caveat, recognising that an estimated 62% of single homeless people are hidden ‘sofa surfers’ who won’t show up in  statistics equating to a further 68,300 people sofa surfing in the UK today, many of them women. Within the hidden issues of sexual exploitation, is a growing issue of hidden homelessness.

This week Beyond the Streets launches the #NOvemberCampaign – asking supporters to give up something they love to stand in solidarity with sexually exploited women. Each week of November we explore a new theme, inspired by the lives of the women we work with at Door of Hope. This week’s theme is comfort, or rather a recognition of the lack of it in the lives of the women we work with.

As I considered what to give up this week, I noticed how many of my own comforts – the things that put me at ease and keep me well – are connected to having a safe and happy home. Access to warming hot drinks, heating and hot baths makes home a place of comfort for me, a haven if you like. For the women we work with, sexual exploitation, homelessness and the resulting complexities result in a life focused on survival, where comfort is off limits. This week I’ll be sacrificing the comfort of hot caffeinated drinks – hoping that the money I save and awareness I raise, will build a better tomorrow for the women I work with.

 

What comfort can you say no to this week? Stand in solidarity with women this month by taking part in the #NovemberCampaign or by making a gift  of £18 to support the Door of Hope project, for which we hope to raise £18,000 through the #NOvemberCampaign.

Born and bred in east London, Rebecca co-ordinates Beyond the Streets Door of Hope project. You can hear Rebecca talk more about Door of Hope by joining us on an Alternative Jack the Ripper Tour, launching this November. 

 


Care on different continents: The adventures of an Outreach Worker.

Abbie Gillgan is a volunteer outreach worker with Beyond the Streets Door of Hope project. Earlier this summer she took a break from outreach in east London to spend some time supporting Oasis India’s outreach teams in Mumbai. In this blog, she reflects on her time caring for women in similar situations on two very different continents.

The bright colours, breath taking smells and sticky heat of India as it neared the end of the dry season were a privilege to experience. But the greatest privilege I had during my short three week trip was the opportunity to spend time with and learn from the women and their children, who are working and living in some of the most desperate environments I have witnessed. Mumbai’s red light district, Kamatipur, is the largest in Asia. This informal settlement is a seemingly never-ending maze, lined with single-roomed shacks, in which the women ‘serve’ their customers as their children sleep under the bed. In this area, every woman sells sex and every man is a pimp or customer, giving the children who grow up here little hope or example of anything else.

Except there is glimmer of hope. Tucked away and unassuming, the humble premises of Oasis India in the heart of Kamatipur provides a safe space, schooling support and food for some of these children while their mothers work. Their outreach to the women in the area had elements of familiarity with what we do at Door of Hope, providing a non-judgemental ear, offering practical support and letting the women know that there can be a life for them beyond the streets.

Spending time in both the slums of Kamatipur and the mega-brothels of Grant Road, was a humbling and welcome reminder of our shared humanity. Despite my undeserved privilege, blindingly pale skin, and my total lack of Hindi, I was struck by the ease at which we could laugh and cry together. It bought to life Jo Cox’s mantra that ‘we have more in common than that which separates us’. While that may feel like a cliché, it’s nonetheless one that our Western society so desperately needs to embrace.

On one level I knew it already, but going to India definitely bought home to me that women experiencing sexual exploitation are not the passive victims that our media and our minds paint them to be. They are fierce, strong and are able to find joy within circumstances so unjust and beyond their control. These are traits I saw in the women in Kamatipur, traits I see in the women in Bethnal Green, and traits I want to see more of in me.

Abbie works for the NSPCC in their Child Safety Online team, which is allowing her to use some of the research she did for her Masters on the harms of online pornography to work to prevent young people from seeing it. She’s been volunteering with Door of Hope in East London for about 8 months, and is passionate about the need to do more to tackle the systemic causes of sexual exploitation.

Speak up for the fierce, strong and able women experiencing sexual exploitation in our communities by standing in solidarity with women this #NOvemberCamapignSign up.

 


As a Beyond Support Worker, why I’m saying no to sexual exploitation and violence against women.

Bread. The stuff of life. Flatbread in the middle of the table, a panini oozing with cheese at lunch with friends, crispy, fluffy baguette, hot dogs at a bonfire party, a late-night piece of toast with a cup of tea whilst you chat over the day with someone you love. Bread is great for sharing.

It can also be a handy and sometimes sneaky in between snack. I can order a pizza, or pick up a kebab or grab a quick sandwich whenever I want. I can pay for it, sneak it in on the quiet when I’m peckish an, if I want, omit to mention that I snuck it in when I sit down to a meal with others.

We can all be good at sneaking treats in to comfort, entertain or ‘satisfy’ ourselves, without necessarily mentioning it to those who care about us. It can be less shameful, less telling, if we keep some treats to ourselves.

That’s ok if it’s just a piece of pizza.

The trouble is that around the world, people are ordering women for themselves as a ‘treat’ every day, sneaking them in when they are bit ‘peckish.’

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It’s not ok that women are trapped, coerced, beaten, controlled and exploited just so someone can order them like a pizza.

It’s not ok, that’s why at Beyond Support we offer women the opportunity to find another route in life. I talk with women on the phone for whom it is so hard to  find another way. Our team seeks to be there, whilst women explore their own hopes and dreams and whilst they explore the idea that their personhood, honour and body are worth more than to be ordered as a snack. We point them in the direction of support so that another way can become a sustainable reality.

I’m saying ‘NO!’ to bread this NOvember Campaign as a way of saying ‘NO!’ to sexual exploitation and violence against women. Agree that women shouldn’t be ordered like pizza? You can sponsor me here.


Words By Miriam Hargreaves, Support Worker and Clinical lead for Beyond Support – our free call-back support service for women exploited through prostitution.

Miriam is saying no as part of the #NOvemberCampaign, a month of awareness raising in the lead up to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25th November. Help us to create more routes of sexual exploitation for women by giving to the campaign.


On behalf of women in India, why I’m saying no to sexual exploitation.

The eldest daughter of a simple villager, Kiron grew up too fast.  At 13 she was told by her father that it was time to get married.  They were poor and often didn’t have enough to eat and so one less mouth to feed would be better for the family.  He asked her if she liked any of the village boys and on her wedding day thought she was marrying a boy she knew.  With head covered by her wedding sari at only 13, she looked into her bridegroom’s eyes and saw an older man leering back at her…not the young man she thought whe was marrying.  As is the custom, she was taken to her new home where life was dictated by her new mother-in-law.  She tried really hard to please her husband and his mother but it wasn’t easy.

A few months into her new life, she was told to go to the field that the family owned.  There she saw a group of young men who quickly gathered round and she began to fell intimidated.  One spoke up and simply said…your mother – in-law has sold you to us for the afternoon….Gang-raped, she hid until dark and then fled to her uncles home, too ashamed to go back to her own immediate family, let alone her husbands home.  Her uncle took her in and cared for her.  After  a few days he sat down and talked with her and said it would be better for the family if she left the village as this had brought shame on them all.  He promised to find her a job in the city of Kolkata  where she could start a new life.

Her own uncle, whom she trusted, sold her into a brothel to begin her new life.

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Trafficking must be stopped, young girls need to have a choice of freedom… your part in NOvember  will help… it will  tangibly give hope – a hope for a better future for those most vulnerable in the rural districts of West Bengal, India.

This NOvember you can say no to exploitation and contribute towards routes out for women by shopping online at Global Seesaw.  All Global Seesaw products are made by women free from trafficking and exploitation in West Bengal. By using the code BTS2016 during November, you can get a 10% discount AND Beyond the Streets will get a 10% donation. It’s a Win Win Win!

Given up shopping for NOvember? You can make a donation directly to Beyond the Streets instead here.


Words by Annie Hilton, Co-Founder of Freeset (Global Seesaw being the UK trading name for Freeset) and friend of Beyond the Streets.


As a person of privilege, why I’m saying no to sexual exploitation and violence against women.

I am a person of privilege. Born to parents who wanted me and loved me, even in my worst days I have never known what it is to be excluded from that support. From childhood to adulthood, I have been loved, valued, nurtured, protected, empowered. I was told things were possible and was privileged to believe it. Enriched with the power of choices, I was privileged to be able to make them. My parents were poor but spiritually rich and emotionally wise. I never had to question my voice, my choice, or step aside because I am female. I was taught to understand the human condition, its virtues and vices, and not to become anyone’s slave. I am truly, deeply free.

I am incredibly privileged. Privileged to love and be loved by a man who has never done me violence, suppressed my speech, stifled my freedom, or sought to exploit me in any way, ever. He esteems our daughters, loves and prizes them, in the same way he does our son. He is not so much gender blind as comprehensively attentive. Would that all men were so.

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But sadly it’s not the case. In homes, on streets, and in cultures around the world, maltreatment of women is accepted. Would that they had the support of their peers and families in rejecting violence against them. Would that they had the means to make a living, without others exploiting their bodies. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes the agreement and effort of whole societies to reject sexual exploitation and violence against women.

I don’t have a problem with privilege, at least not with privileges like mine. The only problem I can see is the idea that what I’ve described really are privileges. These are not life’s privileges, these are life’s achievables. The cost is making it true for you and the women in your life. The gain is changing futures for women around the world.

If you are a person of privilege, put it to good use this year. Join the NOvember campaign, sign up to say no to something you love or financially support those who are.


Words by Madi Simpson, a Writer, Speaker, Friend and Supporter of Beyond the Streets.


Family; can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Family; can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Isn’t that the truth? Killing my spontaneity by insisting I let them know if I’m in for dinner. Uploading photos of me asleep on the sofa to social media. Using the Christmas dinner table as a platform to air their political views. For all of their faults, there has been times that I couldn’t have done without them. Like the time my Dad came to rescue me when my car broke down at 3am, only to discover that I was trying to do a hill start in fourth gear. Or the day before my graduation when my brothers visited every H&M store in east London, searching for the sold out dress that I was adamant I was going to graduate wearing. These grand gestures are good, but it’s the daily details of doing life together that I appreciate the most: the coffee that appears by my bedside every morning, the cheering on, the listening ear, the way my Mum treats a sniffle with the sympathy of the flu.

I can’t live with them, but despite my best efforts, I can’t live without them either. Until November, that is. When I’ll have to.

At the start of the year I joined Beyond the Streets to look after the Door of Hope project in east London. Door of Hope supports women who are sexually exploited through prostitution, women who became involved in street prostitution as a result of complex vulnerabilities- a last resort response to insurmountable struggles. Most have been pushed to the very edge through poverty, lack of opportunity and social exclusion.

As I travel around the capital, sharing stories from the streets, the question I’m often asked is “Where are their families? What happened to their friends?”. It’s a complex question to answer. For many, those relationships didn’t exist in the first place, with up to 70% of those involved in Prostitution having grown up in the care system (1). For others, accounting for 64% of women in prostitution, their exploitation began when they were children and they’ve fled the communities they were part of to escape it (2). For the majority, the lifestyle that results from prostitution has driven those closest to them away.

That’s the tragic irony of sexual exploitation: it is a corrosive force that destroys the support networks of those most in need of support. It disrupts families. Derails communities. Destroys lives.

This November, I’m standing in solidarity with the women I’ve spent the last year standing on street corners with- giving up all contactwith my immediate family to say no to sexual exploitation and violence against women.
Rebecca's family selfie. She'll be giving contact with them up for a month come November.

Why give up my family this November? Because when trouble knocks at my door I know that it will have to get through my family, friends and church community before it gets to me. For me there’s always someone to call. Always someone to lend. Always someone to pray. Tonight, I know that a woman my age, in my town, will get into a car with a man she doesn’t know as a means of survival… because when trouble knocked at her door, there was no one to answer but her. I’m saying NO for her. Join me?

This November, Beyond the Streets invites you to support Rebecca in join  saying no to sexual exploitation by sponsoring her, you can give towards her goal here.

References.

[1] Bindel, J. Brown, L. Easton, H. Matthews, R. Reynolds, l. (2012) Breaking Down the Barriers, Eaves and London South Bank University (LSBU)

[2 ] Marianne Hester and Nicole Westmarland, (2004) Home Office Study 279, Tackling Street Prostitution: Towards an holistic approach’ University of Bristol, Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate quoting Pearce and Roach (1997).