A charity supporting women in the sex industry in the Worthing area has been given a £1,380 grant by Worthing Community Chest.
Yada runs The Esther Project to reduce isolation, increase safety and improve emotional wellbeing for self-identifying women who sell or exchange sex, whether by choice or coercion.
The charity offers support services through The Esther Project and the grant will enable two team members to carry out a counselling skills course to better equip them for supporting clients.
Yada’s vision is to see a world with no place for sexual exploitation, where women live empowered lives in connection and community.
The meaning of its name, ‘to be known’, motivates staff and volunteers to create a culture of support and acceptance for each woman, promoting a life free from abuse and stigma.
Research over many years has highlighted the reluctance of sex workers to disclose their occupations to a whole variety of services and professionals. Fear of stigma and judgement can also mean sex workers do not access any services at all.
Once isolated, women can be more vulnerable to violence and abuse.
Yada offers space and time to connect with outreach workers, whether online, over the phone or face-to-face.
The charity provides safety and wellbeing information, including access to online reporting and alerts tools, tailored safety and privacy tips, personal alarms, sexual health items and access to a pan-Worthing referral pathway.
Local collaboration has been a priority from the start and the charity continues to build relationships with other services in West Sussex. Sex work can intersect with other issues like mental health or addiction, and recent reports suggest ‘survival sex’ is on the rise in the UK due the impact of Universal Credit.
An important part of Yada’s work is raising awareness and reducing stigma. This includes offering training to other local services about supporting people who may be selling or exchanging sex, ensuring a higher quality of informed specialist support for women across the town.