Hull Lighthouse was founded in 1996 to support women who were street sex working to exit prostitution. The women who Hull Lighthouse work with exhibit the most clear and extreme manifestations of severe and multiple disadvantage: poverty, homelessness, mental health problems, contact with the criminal justice system, domestic and sexual exploitation, and substance misuse – in one scoping study, 98% of the women supported by Hull Lighthouse were using heroin.
Lankelly Chase funds Hull Lighthouse’s outreach work, which focuses on building the women’s financial, social and personal stability, and enhancing their self-esteem. Workers support the women to negotiate the system and stop them falling through the gaps in services, including advocating on their behalf and building relationships and understanding across organisational boundaries. The service is based on respect for the women’s voices and informed by their own personal priorities, from housing and benefits information to access to children. Hull Lighthouse aims to build itself into the whole local community response to street sex work, including influencing local strategies and taking on social work students to embed learning within other local services.
As well as the direct work, Lankelly Chase also supports Hull Lighthouse’s research programme charting women’s routes into street-based prostitution, which has found that children and young women being sexually exploited are often invisible to services. This work also challenges superficial knowledge and perceptions around ‘sex work’ by discussing it both as the result of a challenging life history and also as a means to an end – for example the ability to buy food – rather than a standalone problem.
For more information: www.hullcommunitychurch.com