Prostitution Exit Programmes?

// 10 January 2009

It seems to me that despite all the debates about the pros and cons of proposed new prositution laws, the one thing that I’d imagine everyone can agree on is that we need more exit programmes, i.e. offering support for those sex workers who want to leave the industry but for whatever reason are unable to do so.

So I’d like to ask – what UK-based exit programmes are there that people are aware of (please provide links if you can)?

And how practially can feminists support these programmes? Let us know. e.g. Is it by donating money? Donating clothes? (I read about a programme in the U.S. that involved women donating suits to an organisation which loaned them out to women who could not afford to purchase their own, for interviews, etc). Donating time? Donating things? Doing something else? What?

Practial suggestions only please!

Comments From You

JenniferRuth // Posted 10 January 2009 at 1:49 pm

In Manchester there is Barnabus, who work to help prostitutes by offering warm food, advice and a medical centre on a bus. They also work with the homeless and community work. They are heavily based on spreading Christianity though.

You can volunteer at their website:

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 10 January 2009 at 2:41 pm

Safe Exit based at Toynbee Hall, Hackney have been working with prostituted women for years. Their aim is to help prostituted women exit by providing practical support. Volunteers are always needed. Link is

Coalition for Removal of Pimping are based in the north of England and they work with girls and young women who have been sexually exploited and coerced into prostitution. They also need volunteers. Link is http://www.crop/

Women’s Support Project which is based in Glasgow work closely with Routes out of Prostitution. More information is on

v // Posted 10 January 2009 at 2:51 pm

in plymouth you’d go the route of a shelter, so women’s aid. or if you had a drug problem, the DAAT (drug and alcohol action team) might be able to help with some support for that, but they are a gov project. the eddystone trust offer free condoms. thats about it that i know of.

course right now they are basically left to fend for themselves. and if they get caught by the police and are illegally here, then there is the possibility theyll be put through the system of deportation. in my opinion this is because the police and the council sees prostitutes either as independent workers who have to take the responsibility for themselves, and take the flak when it goes wrong.

in my opinion most prostitution is invisible in that people dont even recognise it as prostitution. im not gonna expand on that here and derail, but thats how i see it. and you cant provide support services if you cant see whats going on because its hidden behind ‘just how it is’. i dont know the best way to deal with that, but changing peoples attitudes so they recognise sexual exploitation when they see it, so they recognise perpetrators of it, thats the first thing we have to do. noone is gonna chip in for support services if they cant see the problem.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 10 January 2009 at 3:14 pm

Ok here’s the organisation I was thinking of “Dress for Success”

“The mission of Dress for Success is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Founded in New York City in 1997, Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization offering services designed to help our clients find jobs and remain employed. Each Dress for Success client receives one suit when she has a job interview and can return for a second suit or separates when she finds work.”

And apparently they have branches in Leeds, London and Strathcylde.

I know it isn’t specifically about prostitution but I can imagine that a sex worker who wants to find alternative work and is struggling financially might benefit from this project.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 10 January 2009 at 3:22 pm

…although I have just spotted this from their case study section:

“I didn’t know how to apply makeup, so they gave me a makeover and let me choose some clothes: a beautiful suit with matching shoes and a handbag. They taught me how to walk in high heels and gave me reassurance. I felt like a model.”


Anyway let’s not get sidetracked – please suggest more organisations and practical ways of supporting them.

D Fox // Posted 10 January 2009 at 3:47 pm

Obviously the best way to support exit strategies is to recognise the people you want to help as human beings first. the law sadly labels all sex workers as common prostitutes which is a label which sticks.

No exit strategies will work unless the girls (and it is mainly street girls in this case) are cleared of all criminal convictions. The problem is many have criminal convictions even if it only ASBOS which of course makes getting jobs difficult. Also persuading the authorities not to gaol women and take their children from them would be a good start as well.

Any exit programme has to work with and understand the needs of the women and some have severe drug addictions which have will mean there is no quick or easy solution.

With trafficked women not deporting them is also a good start which is what the government has been doing. And controversially I would argue that allowing them access to people who are also sex workers and so understand the work they have unwillingly or through survival strategies been involved. fellow sex workers can speak to them as people who understand what they have been doing in a non patronising or condescending manner manner would be

helpful. Xtalk run by the IUSW does this by teaching migrant workers basic English and by doing so allows them if they choose to access with understanding the variety of exit projects available.

Douglas IUSW activist

v // Posted 10 January 2009 at 4:55 pm

all sex workers are not labelled as common prostitutes. retail staff in sex shops are not labelled common prostitutes. phone operators on sex lines are not labelled common prostitutes. lapdancers are not labelled as common prostitutes. its important to note that when you talk about prostitution, you are not talking about all people who identify as being in sex work. and conversely, that when you talk about prostitution, there are many people who although legally they would be considered that way, culturally we mostly do not recognise it.

the only other comment i want to make because i dont want to derail but if you allow comments like d fox’s through then of course its going to draw responses – is that when d fox talks specifically about traffiked women, and then says they should be “helped to understand the work they have been doing” – does something about that not sit well with you? especially when you consider that the man telling you this owns and runs an escort agency, and also can be shown to have advertised for punters and pimps to join and fund the sex workers union he represents? there is no conflict of interest here that suggests that possibly, sending traffiked women to ‘understand’ their ‘work’, with agencies like xtalk who will teach them how to ask not to be raped in english – that this is all really, desperately, wrong?

im kind of aghast really at the sort of stuff that is going on here without mod comment. its just – seriously?

perhaps the next step for d fox is figuring out how to use rape crisis centres as recruitment agencies.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 10 January 2009 at 5:05 pm

Only information/links about actual exit programmes will be published on this thread from now on. Thank you

delphyne // Posted 10 January 2009 at 5:30 pm

The Poppy Project is the organisation that immediately springs to mind. They work with trafficked women, providing services to help them escape and get back on their feet:

Details of how to donate are here:

It’s worth considering however, why prostitution, if it is just like any other job as its proponents claim, requires such specialist and intensive support for people wanting to leave it. I can’t think of any other job, perhaps apart from a soldier returning from war, that makes those undertaking it so vulnerable and with so many serious needs that have to be addressed before they can live the life they want when they decide they no longer want to do the work.

MariaS // Posted 10 January 2009 at 6:48 pm

In Merseyside:

(The website is completely unfinished, most of the pages don’t link to anything! But there is a contact form).

mim // Posted 10 January 2009 at 7:30 pm

Women@the well do something as a second step, and there’s a programme run jointly between the methodists, catholics and salvation army out of the King’s Cross area from the Methodist Church which helps with first step.

Catherine // Posted 10 January 2009 at 9:52 pm

The majority of front line support programmes, including exit assistance, for sex workers in the UK are run by the 63 members of the UKNSWP.

“The aim of the UKNSWP is “To promote the health, safety, civil and human rights of sex workers, including their rights to live free from violence, intimidation, coercion or exploitation, to engage in the work as safely as possible, and to receive high quality health and other services in conditions of trust and confidentiality, without discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, culture or religion.”

The UKNSWP recognises and supports, the rights of individual sex workers to self-determination, including the right to remain in sex work or leave sex work.”

Catherine // Posted 10 January 2009 at 11:52 pm

In addition, the UKNSWP (and the IUSW) have repeatedly criticised the government for allocating no additional funds to support services despite repeated claims they wish to aid vulnerable women.

Ms Chin // Posted 11 January 2009 at 11:32 am

The Together Women Project in Bradford does some really excellent work alongside local partners to support women exiting prostitution:

The Poppy Project is leader in the field re: trafficked women – we should be doing far more to support these women, they have to agree to act as witnesses in criminal trials to get any state help here.

MariaS // Posted 12 January 2009 at 8:45 pm

Exiting Prostitution: Models of Best Practice (October 2007) – a literature review commissioned by the Ministry of Justice in New Zealand, produced by Pat Mayhew and Dr Elaine Mossman, Crime and Justice Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington

It includes information about the work of projects in the UK.

Christina // Posted 20 April 2010 at 12:52 am

Genesis in Leeds are an organisation set up to help women who wish to exit prostitution. They also respect the choice of women who work in the industry and offer free condoms etc aswell as offering a support service. They are presently helping me to exit and I have given my blog address which contains memoirs and present day accounts of my experiences in prostitution.

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