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Rebecca Dillon

Hope for the future – Chrysalis

Sml Girl in field shutterstock_197364293Six years on from the launch of Chrysalis, we are now asking whether a lack of support for women exiting prostitution still exists.

To help answer this question – Commonweal will commission a 2015 Position Statement outlining the current policies, practices and experiences of women seeking to exit prostitution. Along with our partners St Mungo’s Broadway, we hope this will allow us to ask key influencers and policy makers to make the necessary changes to ensure all women wishing to exit prostitution receive the tailored and specific support they need to do this.

The Chrysalis Project supports women with high needs; all use or have a history of substance misuse and many have histories involving physical, mental or sexual abuse. The project is structured around an accommodation pathway that supports women move towards independent living.

An initial evaluation by Professor Roger Matthews and Helen Easton was funded by Commonweal Housing at the start of the project, with the aim of testing the holistic support model to be offered by the Chrysalis project, one specifically geared to this group of women.
The evaluation tested whether providing targeted support, along with step down transitional housing (as below), would work together to effectively deliver a range of positive outcomes for the women, and ultimately – for the wider community.

How the project works: a staged, multi agency approach

There are three phases of accommodation and support within the Chrysalis Project,
each tailored to the needs of women at the different stages of their recovery.

Phase one – security, stability and intensive support

The first phase of Chrysalis is an 18 bed hostel provided by St Mungo’s Broadway that offers secure supported accommodation. Intensive support is provided to enable women to address enduring problems such as substance use and mental health issues. Specially trained psychotherapists also provide counselling sessions to help the women deal with ongoing trauma to further enable recovery.

The hostel is also a St Mungo’s Broadway Psychologically Informed Environment (PIE)
pilot project, which creates an emotionally safe environment where a sense of community is fostered and clients are supported to build positive relationships.

Phase two – moving towards independence

At this stage clients move into a St Mungo’s Broadway semi-independent project to help them to develop skills that will enable them to sustain living independently, such as cooking, budgeting and engaging with local services so that they can effectively access the help that is available.

Phase three – living in the community

Commonweal Housing transitional flats form the third phase of the Chrysalis Project.
The women are given a tenancy in one of seven one bedroom flats in South London.
The accommodation is well maintained, furnished to a high standard and is designed to
boost the women’s self esteem and act as a motivator for further change.

A key aim of the third phase is supporting women to move-on into independent accommodation, ensuring that there is ‘flow’ through the service that will enable more
women to enter and progress through the Chrysalis Project.

An ongoing safety net is provided in the Commonweal flats through floating support.
Women keep the same key worker for the duration of their involvement with the Chrysalis Project and for six months after they move on into fully independent accommodation.

*The Chrysalis Project is a joint initiative between Commonweal Housing, St Mungo’s Broadway and Lambeth Council.