2009 – 2016

Project overview

The third stage of the Chrysalis project wass a partnership between Commonweal and St Mungo’s, funded by Lambeth Council. The project began in April 2009, providing a resettlement programme for women wanting to exit prostitution. Commonweal provided housing for the final residential phase of a 3-phase resettlement programme initially created by St. Mungo’s. The new, third phase gives clients the opportunity of living independently in one-bedroom flats to aid their transition to self- sufficient living. Funding was not forthcoming from the local authority for the 2016 funding round and in summer 2016 the third stage of the Chrysalis project came to an end. However, the learning from the project is now being successfully replicated in a new project, the Amari Project, a partnership between Commonweal and Solace Womens Aid, a leading London domestic and sexual abuse charity. You can find out more about the new project here.

Stage one

Provides women emergency accommodation and a formal assessment of needs. It establishes a safe environment away from the pressures of street prostitution where women can receive immediate support with health and substance misuse issues.

Stage two

Gives women an opportunity to stabilise their substance misuse and involvement in prostitution in a women only hostel environment. This phase provides individually tailored support that responds as each woman’s circumstances change. As their independence grows women move through three stages of support, gradually preparing them to move on from hostel accommodation and intensive support.

Stage three (no longer provided as part of the Chrysalis project)

Accommodation was provided by Commonweal Housing which consisted of seven, anonymous, one bedroom flats located in the London Borough of Lambeth. This accommodation was available to women who are able to live more independently and who were engaging with treatment and other meaningful activities.

Women in this accommodation are encouraged to self manage and build positive community connections and social supports while still receiving floating support from their key worker.

Case Study

Linda* is a mother of 6 . When She came to the Chrysalis Project she was homeless and had minimal contact with her children . She had a severe history of domestic violence and crack use over fifteen years. She entered the service in 2007. She then attended a community programme over a 3 month period, residential detox, 6 months rehab and is now a tenant of Commonweal flat. She is engaging well and is reunited with her immediate family and is taking an active responsible role as a mother to her six children. She is actively looking into college work.

She wishes to remain abstinent from crack use, although has lapsed twice within the last year yet maintained her tenancy through positive support with her own individualised recovery plan.

She is looking into regaining custody of her youngest children and seeking alternative housing for her move on from the project.

* names have been changed

Project evaluation

A unique approach to supporting women to exit prostitution… the dedicated third stage accommodation is crucial to the success of the Chrysalis Project. Having access to independent accommodation with ongoing support assists with the process of ‘role exit’ by introducing women to new experiences, responsibilities and associated emotional experiences at a manageable pace.

Being away from the hostel environment allows women to process changes and develop new aspects of their identity […] while at the same time having a ‘safety net’ to fall back on if needed.

The project underwent an independent evaluation which came to an end in Autumn 2012. The 2 year evaluation was carried by Professor Roger Matthews formally of the Crime Reduction and Community Safety Research Group at London South Bank University and currently Professor of Criminology at The University of Kent. The full report is available here.


Project partners

St Mungos Lambeth Council funder of The Chrysalis Project