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Shocking portrait of the life of Bournemouth's sex workers
1:00pm Tuesday 12th February 2013 in News
DRASTIC action is needed to improve the health of Bournemouth’s street sex workers and to help them escape a life of prostitution, according to a new report.
Around 30 vulnerable women between the ages of 24 and 49 regularly work on the streets of Boscombe and most are drug users whose children have been taken into care.
LINks, the Local Improvement Network, identified a need to offer more support and commissioned the Bournemouth Alcohol and Drug User Forum (BADSUF) to undertake health needs assessments.
Of the estimated 30 street sex workers in Boscombe, BADSUF managed to engage with 17 who painted a shocking picture of their lives on the streets.
Most work every night, are regularly abused by members of the public, suffer violence from punters and are dependent on drugs.
Now the report has been shared with a number of agencies and those behind it hope an action plan will be drawn up to help the women.
Profile of Bournemouth's sex workers
- Aged between 24 and 49
- All live in Bournemouth with nearly six out of 10 resident in Boscombe
- Have worked as street sex workers from one to 21 years
- Most work every night
- Eight out of 10 are heroin users with most also using crack cocaine
- Eight out of ten said they would go straight into residential rehab if it was available
- Two thirds are not registered with a dentist
- A third have had involvement with the Community Mental Health Team
- Eight out of 10 have children but all are in care
- At weekends cars full of people throw objects including eggs at some street sex workers
The report, Sex Workers Health Needs, has been submitted to Bournemouth council, NHS Bournemouth and Poole, the Dorset Healthcare Trust and Dorset Police.
BADSUF charity manager Julia Dixon-Large said: “The next stage is to bring the parties together and to increase support to these vulnerable women.
“The Dorset Working Women’s Project (DWWP)has been providing support since 1997 but this needs to increase.”
And Pauline Smyth, DWWP project co-ordinator added: “It was essential to engage with these women to try to help them.”
Sue Meakin, Health Improvement Manager for Dorset Healthcare, added: “We want to support women exiting prostitution. The current economic situation will bring some women into prostitution.”
Dorset Healthcare Chief Executive Paul Sly said: “I look forward to developing the recommendations through our multi-agency partnerships to ensure the health and well being of these women are recognised and fully supported.”
And NHS Bournemouth and Poole Director of Public Health Dr Adrian Dawson said: “We would welcome the opportunity to consider further what can be done in the local community to support these residents to access suitable primary and community services.”
A recent Dorset Police study into on street prostitution revealed Boscombe is the only area in the county affected.