Basis Yorkshire works to end stigma, create safety and promote empowerment for:
- Sexworkers living and/or working in Leeds (female including trans, indoor or on the street)
- Young People (boys, girls, young women and young men) experiencing sexual exploitation, those at medium or high risk thereof
Basis Yorkshire was set up (as Genesis Leeds) in 1989 by a few volunteers, supporting sexworkers in Leeds. In 1997, a young person’s service was established to accommodate the specific needs of girls and young women who were being sexually exploited. In 2018, Basis Boys was established to accommodate boys and young men that are being exploited, sexually or otherwise. The charity also provides high quality training and awareness raising sessions locally and nationally on social justice issues and practice development.
POSITION STATEMENT – WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
Basis supports indoor and street sex workers who identify as women, and young people who are sexually exploited. Our purpose is to empower people to make safer and healthier choices by offering information, support and options. Our work is driven by a sound evidence base, as well as working closely with women and young people to ensure our services are designed and delivered with them, putting their voices and experience at the centre of our work. We challenge stigma and inequality of access to services for everyone we work with.
We are proud to be one of a small number of specialist organisations that explicitly recognise and advocate for women’s right to work more safely when selling sex, while also supporting young people who are sexually exploited to be safer and free from harm. We understand that for some women and young people, their ‘choices’ are severely constrained by a range of factors including physical and mental health, substance use, family circumstances and abusive relationships, as we support them in managing the risks and vulnerabilities they face. We recognise people’s dignity and agency in their decision-making.
We recognise that there are certain groups of people we support who experience greater exclusion and stigma due to discrimination based on race, disability and gender identity among others. We will pro-actively challenge any such exclusion and discrimination. In addition we are in the process of reviewing our governance and other processes to ensure we do not (unconsciously) exclude anyone from accessing or contributing to our services, with a particular focus on people who experience racism.
Our 30 years of working with sex workers enables us to see the diversity of experiences in the sex industry, including women choosing to earn their income by selling sex (over or alongside other forms of work, without third-party coercion) through to those being sexually or otherwise exploited and coerced by partners, peers, traffickers, employers, landlords, drug dealers etc. We recognise that inequalities play an important part in people’s involvement in the sex industry. For example, when women are poor or have migrant status they can be more easily exploited. Attempts to use enforcement to control the sale of sex, as well as the stigma felt by sex workers, means a lack of access to services and resources which abusers can exploit. We support women to exit sex work, but don’t compel them or shame them into that, working alongside them on their personal goals and aspirations for the future.
We have over 20 years of experience engaging with young people in sexually exploitative relationships, and work alongside them, recognising their dual rights: the balance between agency and autonomy vs. protection and guidance. We have worked with women and young people to develop best practice for the National Centre for Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation. We enable young people to have the tools they need to cope with their experiences, keep themselves safe and make healthy choices.
We are proud to have been recognised for our impact in improving health for women and young people through a 2017 GSK Impact Award. Our peer support and enabling service user voice has been recognised by a National Working Group Unsung Hero Award 2017 and a Diana Award in 2017 for our youth group ‘the lionesses’. Our community campaigning on sex worker’s right to live free from violence or abuse was recognised by the Sheila McKechnie award.
We are proud of feedback from women and young people for “not giving up” , “having their back”, “not judging“, and “saving their lives”. Mostly, we are proud of and inspired by the achievements they have made.
In 2015, the charity was rebranded as Basis Yorkshire – currently comprising the following projects:
Complaints and Feedback Procedures
We take feedback from service users and other stakeholders extremely seriously, details of this can be found in our complaints and feedback policy.