Is the system doing enough for women experiencing a range of disadvantages?

Barriers and Recommendations – This report is of interest to anyone working with people experiencing multiple disadvantage, particularly women and those involved in street-based sex work.

Fulfilling Lives Lambeth Southwark Lewisham (LSL) have experience working with women experiencing multiple disadvantage and who are involved in street-based sex work. This report shares experiences and insights of women with lived experience and of practitioners working alongside them and identifies the challenges and barriers they face to accessing services.

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Trauma, gender, and culturally informed service provision
Services must recognise the trauma that women have experienced, respond
to the impact trauma can have and that interactions with the system can retraumatise. Services must understand the gendered experiences of these
women and respond accordingly and consider individual’s specific
experiences depending on their cultural context. Services must develop and
embed informed approaches and practice.

More support including drug and alcohol treatment
It is essential that local areas provide support for women around the factors
leading them to become involved in street-based sex work especially drug
and alcohol use. Often, women experience barriers to accessing drug and
alcohol services such as appointment times, male-dominated environments
and the limited availability of detox and rehab places.

Co-produced solutions
It is essential that women with current and former lived experience of sex
work are involved in the development of solutions for these solutions to be
effective and to successfully meet the needs of women. To find out more about co-production and its importance, please see other reports on our

Access to safe routes for reporting incidents
Women do not feel safe in reporting violence and exploitation to the police
and alternatives such as National Ugly Mugs should be promoted and made
available and accessible to enable women to report incidences. Safe and
alternative routes for reporting are important to ensure women’s safety,
while holding perpetrators to account.

Address siloed working
Many women involved in sex work and experiencing multiple disadvantage
have mental ill health and are known to use substances. To prevent women
from being passed around the system, responses to dual diagnosis should be strengthened through ensuring that national guidance on co-occurring
mental ill-health and substance use is followed locally.
Local commissioners and service providers should ensure staff at all levels of the system are supported and challenged to ensure assessment and the
provision of services for people with dual diagnosis. Services should include support specifically for women and those with children recognising the impact of those relationships in their treatment and recovery.

Housing Pathways
Commissioners should ensure greater choice in the housing which is available for women experiencing multiple disadvantages and involved in street-based sex work. This should adopt a model that prioritises securing safe and timely accommodation for individuals and that takes gender specific and trauma informed approach, such as the Housing First for Female Sex Workers pilot in Leeds.

Read the full report here: