Women exiting prostitution and trafficking offered vital support in new partnership with leading London domestic and sexual abuse charity
Solace Women’s Aid has launched the Amari project, a new project in partnership with Commonweal Housing, with funding from London Councils, providing accommodation and support to/for women in London who are exiting prostitution or who have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
While a safe, secure place to live plays a vital role in aiding women’s recovery from violence or abuse, women who have exited prostitution or trafficking are some of the most marginalised in society and there is a significant lack of specialist housing and support projects specifically tailored to this client group.
The Amari project, which takes its name from an African-Yoruba word for ‘Strength’, provides support of up to 18-months in the form of step-down accommodation to women who are moving on from emergency accommodation or community support to help women maintain their tenancies. Alongside housing services, the project also offers vital emotional and practical support to help women recover, become more independent and get back into education or employment.
The links between abuse and prostitution are indisputable. 85% of women in prostitution report that they grew up with physical abuse in the family and 45% report familial sexual abuse (Home Office Paying the price, 2004). More than 50% of women working in prostitution have been raped and/or seriously assaulted and at least 75% have been physically assaulted (AVA Policy briefing on Prostitution, 2011).
Recovery is often not a quick or linear process. The majority of women who are exiting prostitution or trafficking suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and may have multiple and complex needs as a result of the abuse that they have survived.
Mary, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid, said:
Solace is pleased to be working in partnership with Commonweal to launch the Amari project. This vital service will enable women to access support over a longer period of time within a stable environment so they can recover at their own pace, whilst moving towards long-term independence and a life free from abuse.
Ashley Horsey, Chief Executive of Commonweal Housing, said
Commonweal are really pleased to provide housing stock and support to this project and to share our experience and learning around this client group from our previous support of the Chrysalis Project. From the work we did on that project we know the crucial role housing can play in a staged model of exiting prostitution, particularly after the initial emergency accommodation stage ends. We look forward to working with Solace in developing a best practice project.