Resources for Practitioners and Projects
Earlier this week, Beyond the Streets hosted Safeguarding Training for staff and volunteers working with women involved in Prostitution across the UK. These days aren’t necessarily just about Beyond the Streets giving out guidelines, but rather the facilitation of a conversation on best practice between skilled specialist projects.
We work in a specialist area, with a complex client group. It is niche and isolated work, where resources are hard to come by. For me, the highlight and help of these events comes from contribution of those in the room. Training brings together scattered specialists to share their hard earned experience and lessons learned along the way. Here are the top five tips on Safeguarding that I took back to east London:
1. A multi-agency approach is key. It gathers different pieces of the puzzle.
It’s likely that the woman you’re working with is in contact with multiple professionals in your area. Her disclosures to you, could be one piece of the puzzle. When shared safely (with consent*) in a confidential multi-agency setting, the pieces that other professionals can lay can you give you all a clearer picture of her situation, resulting in the development of a co-ordinated multi-agency response.
*We should note, where safeguarding ‘red flags’ are disclosed (she is under the age of 18, pregnancy etc) it is good practice to report her disclosure, regardless of consent.
2. Listen for her voice.
Where possible, involve her in the reporting and referrals that need to be made to keep her safe. Let her shape her own safety plan.
3. Be prepared to fight her corner.
We celebrated how far safeguarding has come, whilst remaining aware of the systematic flaws that so often fail the women we work with. Everybody should be safeguarded, but we know that not everybody is. It’s likely that in some cases her safety is something that you will need to fight for, advocating on her behalf and holding other professionals to account.
4. Invest in good relationships.
You don’t need to know everything, if you know others that know something. Developing good relationships with other professionals in this specialist’s area, opens up a pool of skills and experience for you to dip into. Don’t hesitate to ask others for their input. Try to cultivate a culture of exchange in your network by demonstrating an openness in sharing learning. Other projects are collaborators, not competition. Becoming a Beyond the Streets Affiliate is a great way to connect with other specialist projects and you’ll also receive a discount on training and our Good Practice Guide. Email us for information on becoming an affiliate project.
5. Safeguard yourself.
It goes without saying that in safeguarding women involved in prostitution, our empathetic engagement with her situation can impact our own. Debrief with your team, engage with clinical supervision where available and carve out time for self care to safeguard yourself as you safeguard others. Equally, sometimes supporting survivors of sexual exploitation interrupts organised crime. In these situations, safeguarding her, could endanger you. In these situations, be sure to develop your own safety plan alongside hers.
Words by Rebecca Branch, co-ordinator of Beyond the Streets Door of Hope project working with women involved in street prostitution in East London. Special thanks to Elaine Davidson of HRSG Services for delivering this bespoke training in collaboration with Beyond the Streets.
Beyond the Streets host specialist training for staff and volunteers working with women in prostitution through the year. Find out about upcoming events here.
“We need all the ladders we can get” : Using Snakes and Ladders as a tool for exploring experiences of leaving prostitution.
In 2015 Beyond the Streets Trustee, Dr Katie Thorlby, completed her Phd thesis Global Perspectives on Sustainable Exit from Prostitution. In this thesis she explored the process of exiting prostitution, based on research she carried out with social enterprises supporting women to leave prostitution in India and the US. This pioneering resource ‘We need all the ladders we can get’ is the fruit of her research, a practical tool that enables women, and those working with them, to explore what helps and hinders women as they work towards a sustainable exit from prostitution.
The resource is designed to facilitate exploration of how individuals leave prostitution and uses the game of snakes and ladders to do this. The resource can be used by support organisations working with those involved in prostitution; it can be used by individuals who themselves are seeking to leave prostitution and want to share understandings of the challenges faced and the sources of support that have been beneficial; and it can be used as an educational or training tool with volunteers, service delivery staff or students seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the process of exiting prostitution.
The resource can be used to explore an individual’s personal circumstances or it can be used in a more generic manner, without being related specifically to personal experience.
It comes with examples on how to run workshops using the tool as well as a range of additional material to allow you to tailor the workshops to your own contexts, including headline findings from the PhD and quotes from the women who took part in the research.
Get your copy of We need all the ladders we can get.
♦ Download your copy of the resource here.
♦ Request a printed copy of the resource by email. Printed copies of the resource come at a cost of £25, plus postage.
♦ Read the doctoral research which inspired the resource Global Perspectives on Sustainable Exit from Prostitution.
♦ Explore further training. Beyond the Streets develop and equip projects and professionals across the UK by offering specialist training that enable professionals to better support women involved in prostitution. Contact us if your organisation would like us to deliver training based on this resource.
Katie Thorlby (PhD Durham) joined the Beyond the Streets board of trustees in January 2010 after carrying out an eleven month internship with the charity. She has previously volunteered at Door of Hope, working with women involved in street prostitution in East London. In 2015 she completed her doctoral research exploring social enterprise approaches adopted by faith-based projects supporting women to leave prostitution. Katie currently works as a researcher in the UK charity sector
This Guide is for local community organisations working with those in prostitution by offering support and routes out. With nearly 20 years experience in the sector, and with collective input from established projects, we want to save you time and energy so that you can work more effectively with those affected by prostitution in the UK. New Edition – May 2016
Prostitution is extensively researched yet despite the amount of research that has been carried out there has, until recently, been little focus on how people leave prostitution. The recently published PhD thesis of Katie Thorlby contributes to closing this gap in our knowledge.
Over the course of the last 3 ½ years, Katie, a trustee of Beyond the Streets, has been carrying out a PhD investigating the process of exiting prostitution through an exploration of faith-based projects that support women to leave prostitution through the operation of social enterprises. The research is based on data from an internet mapping study and ethnographic research with two case studies, a project in India and a project in the US, both of which are running social enterprises. The thesis examines the nature of such projects; how they support women to exit prostitution; how the social enterprise models employed by these projects operate; the role of faith in the nature and work of such projects; and the experiences of the women engaging with these projects. You can read the full thesis here: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/11072/
Resources for practitioners based on the findings of the research are currently being developed and will be made available in the coming months.
Posted by Beyond The Streets on 21/07/2015 at 12:02 PM
This guideline has been created with the intention that it would encourage those working with vulnerable and exploited people to think through how they ‘use’ people’s stories and how they communicate these stories to others in an ethical and sensitive manner, always portraying the people they work with in a dignified and respectful manner.
The organisations and institutions that work with the exploited and the vulnerable can often act as a window between ‘mainstream’ society and the people they work with.
Windows can often distort reality or create a different picture depending on what glass is put into the frame, how the structure of the window is created and what the window chooses to point towards. Similarly organisations can have a similar influence and consequently need to take the time to consider carefully the people they represent, their feelings and emotions about a situation, and the impact of how the organisation chooses to represent this group of people.