No Longer Invisible: Our Journey on the Road to Recovery

The Recovery Fund – “No Longer Invisible – Our Journey on the Road to Recovery”

SKMBT_C28015012915220qMany of the sex working women at Genesis want to tell their story, from their own point of view. They want to bust the myths around sex work, and be seen as something other than a sex worker. Some have been through so much to lead them into drug and alcohol misuse, and they want to talk about their journey through recovery and more importantly, inspire others and offer them hope through their own recovery.

Service users at Genesis wanted to tell their story and document it in a booklet, along with quotes and images. As well as being a self-discovery process to aid women’s own recovery, we hoped the booklet could help the recovery of others, by reading it and seeing that recovery is possible. We hope they will be inspired by our stories. We also wanted to inspire future participatory creative/arts based projects with active involvement and leadership from service users.

“The idea is all about telling our story, in our own way, for  ourselves and for others in similar situations. We want others  to understand the truth for us, and we want to be able to communicate this, as we often feel so hidden and anonymous.”

Led by a Genesis service user, we applied in November 2013 for a small grant to make 300 copies of the ‘No Longer Invisible’ booklet, and in November 2014 it was published. A range of women were consulted and asked for their contributions. 9 women were involved in the project. 8 told their story, 7 of which were included in the booklet. All women were consulted regarding how the idea would work, the name, and how the booklet would be presented. Recovery stories were recorded on a 1:1 basis with a staff member, due to confidentiality and confidence.

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Key themes emerging from the booklet were having a voice, misconceptions, the link between sex work and drug use, exploitation, violence towards sex workers (hate crime), removal of children, domestic violence, being in care, and of course, recovery and hope.

 We are now sharing the booklet, which we are very proud of, with working women around the city, through outreach; drop in and in 1:1 sessions. We have given copies to New Hall prison, to other projects like ours around the North of England, to the drugs service, TWP and other partner agencies. On December 17th, International End Violence Against Sex Workers day, we shared the booklet with 11 women. Some had contributed their stories and were so proud of their contributions. Others expressed an interest in telling their stories too. We hope that we can one day produce another booklet, No Longer Invisible, Part 2 and give others the same opportunity.

SKMBT_C28015012915260eWe believe the booklet is a great tool, not just for service users but for practitioners. We feel that practitioners often enter a client’s life at one point, supporting them through one issue, and getting only a limited snapshot of their life. This booklet allows practitioners to gain a better understanding and perspective of the varied lives and complex issues some women face.

It is an important qualitative research tool too. The current Needs Assessment (2014-2015) completed by Genesis on sex worker views and opinions, collects statistics but not a whole story, which this booklet addresses. I presented the booklet at the Dec 12th 2014 Sex Work Knowledge Share, hosted by Genesis and Care Connect at Leeds University. This was attended by academics, projects and other interested parties, working with male and female sex workers from across the country. The booklet was well received and people were interested in the themes that emerged.

We want to be able to keep this tool going for as long as possible. This is why we are charging a small fee, so we can put funds in to produce more copies of the ‘No Longer Invisible’ booklet, and perhaps a ‘Part 2’. If you would like a copy, it is available by contacting us on 0113 2430036.


19th February 2015

By Emily Turner, Acting Team Leader and Outreach Worker, Genesis