Today is International Homeless Day and we’d like to shine a light on some of our most challenging but highly innovative work , a partnership with Turning Lives Around and Basis Yorkshire – providing Housing First for female sexworkers with multiple complex needs in Leeds funded by the Tudor Trust.
Homelessness is becoming more and more visible in city centres across England over recent years and the issue is featuring more in social debate across the country. Over the past 18 months, our unique Housing First program – one of the first working only with sexworkers – has sustainably housed more than 9 women. For most, access to Housing First has had a profound impact, in some cases lifesaving. It has meant that women have reduced their alcohol and/or drug dependency are in treatment for health issues, some have decided to stop or reduce their sexworking. More importantly, they “feel secure and happy with my housing situation and things can only get better”.
We’ve recently housed AP, a sexworker who moved to Leeds to escape a violent relationship of over 12 years. AP’s partner had forced her to sexwork to fund his drug addiction, she was suffering poor mental health and had become totally dependent on him. Her move to Leeds initially left her feeling very anxious, she was struggling to make decisions independently and nearly returned to the streets to be with her partner. Nonetheless, thanks to her growth in confidence and the support she had from Basis, TLA and other agencies AP is now living without violence, is maintaining her methadone scripts and confidently takes decisions independently. She still sees her partner however their relationship is on a totally different level ; AP is in control of any visits to her house and how long he may stay. She now manages and controls her own money and as recently enrolled at College.
This is just one of the achievements from the past 6 months Turning Lives Around and Basis, building on the achievements of the first 12 months with Foundation Housing . Sue Oates from TLA and Nicky Pickup from Basis work closely together to give women on their caseload the best chance of success in a house of their choice. Sue Oates “It is a privilege to support and to witness women making positive changes , some of whom had not engaged well previously due to their vulnerability and complex needs”. We know we couldn’t do this without others as Nicky Pickup HF support worker from Basis notes: “ the dedication and commitment of fellow professionals from specialist agencies like Forward Leeds and York Street are equally important. Women are no longer moving around the city and are therefore easier to contact. Women are also more likely to attend appointments with less need for crisis support”.
Turning Lives Around and Basis are proud of what we have been able to achieve with Housing First. Challenges remain: including housing availability in a location of choice and, in the longer term, embedding Housing First for sexwork in local authority practice given the pressures on budgets, despite the evidence of value for money in the long term.
For more info see Basis Housing First
To refer someone into the program please email: Nicola.firstname.lastname@example.org