In March 2022 the Encompass Network held an event for workers to showcase the range of resources available to improve practice and increase their understanding of the needs of women who sell or exchange sexual activity in Scotland.
Around 150 workers attended from areas such as social work, sexual health, housing services, criminal justice, prison, women’s aid, rape crisis, fire and rescue service, money advice, to name just a few. The diversity of workers present reflects the range of services that women who sell or exchange sex regularly access for support and highlights why it is so vital that workers across all areas understand the spectrum of women’s needs.
During the event we had the opportunity to ask attendees about their views on supporting women in this context and below are some of their responses:
How many have supported women who sell/exchange sexual activity?
In a quick poll, workers attending were asked to share whether they have supported women involved in selling or exchanging sexual activity in their service or organisation, and 66% of attendees said they have:
What are some of the challenges of supporting women involved in selling or exchanging sexual activity?
One of our final questions to the audience asked about the additional resources workers would like to receive to better support women. Interestingly, most of the options offered received the same number of votes. The three top answers were: access to awareness-raising resources, training on key themes and information on how to support women in specific settings.
Reflections from workers
At the end of the event, the workers shared some of their key learnings from the event. Some of their takeaways and comments included:
If you would like to find out more about the needs of women who sell or exchange sex in specific areas like housing, safety, mental health, problematic substance use among others, visit our events page to sign up to our upcoming training and sign up to our bulletin to receive resources and details of our events straight to your inbox.
Last month we launched the CSE Aware website, a place where workers can find resources, information, research, the voices of women with lived experience and more to inform their practice.
We have big plans for the website and one of our main ideas is to make it easy to navigate different topics affecting women who sell or exchange sex, such as housing, problematic substance use, abuse and violence, immigration. But we are not there yet...
Our website is a work in progress and our Resource Worker is working behind the scenes to unveil the next phase after May. In the meantime, we want to hear your feedback: is there anything you would like to see there? Would you be interested in sharing your own ideas and practice experiences? Please get in touch, we really want workers to help us shape this website.