POW Nottingham provides health and wellbeing services for sex workers. Their team includes a specialist Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA), as well as staff dedicated to supporting migrant sex workers, those who want to move on from sex work, and those in crisis. As Chief Executive Daniela Scotece explains, “a crisis can be anything from ‘my benefits have been sanctioned’ to ‘I’ve been raped’ or ‘I’ve only got the clothes I’m standing up in.’”
POW also provides satellite clinics for sexual health and drug misuse, condoms and sexual health information and facilitates attendance at health appointments in addition to delivering outreach sessions. They also carry out advocacy and training to effect wider change in society around issues of sex work and sexual exploitation.
POW is in the middle of its second grant from Lloyds Bank Foundation, which is for £46,440, delivered over two years to fund the Service Delivery Manager and Senior Support Worker.
The charity has been a lifeline to Joe, who says:
“I was badly abused as a kid and I got into drugs. My dealer turned out to be my pimp, and I worked as a sex worker for 20-odd years to fund my habit, which was getting out of control – I was spending hundreds of pounds a day on crack and coke. In 2016, in desperation, I decided enough was enough and I asked for help. I got into rehab, and somebody there told me about POW so I came down and met Holly, the Progression Worker. She’s amazing, she really is. The work she has done with me is absolutely phenomenal - she got me into a theatre group for people in recovery, and we performed a play that we produced together. This week we signed me up to a summer school, so I can apply for college in September.
“After rehab I was struggling to find my way. If I hadn’t known about POW, maybe I’d have gone back on the game, I don’t know. But coming here has given me a brighter future.”
By partnering with other local organisations and some statutory services, POW is able to provide a ‘one stop shop’ at its weekly drop in:
“The people we work with know that they can pop in and the facilities are all there, for anyone who needs them. Our partner agencies offer tailored professional services; for example, normally at a sexual health clinic, they run through a series of questions and one is ‘have you ever paid or been paid to have sex?’ Sex workers are immediately going to feel unwelcome, so we don’t do that here.”
However, POW’s essential services have been affected by cuts. For example, the drugs treatment clinic, which used to be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is now only available once a week. Community Development Manager Ben Talbot expands:
“The local authorities have less money all the time. Lately we’ve been meeting with the people who make decisions on a local level – we met our MP and the city council, because to get their support, we can’t just assume they know what we’re doing and why it matters. So we’re working hard on that, but the reality is that there isn’t enough money around.”
“We’re a very small, very specialised charity. We’re great value for money but the council and commissioners want to fund work with the service users, not rent. But if we haven’t got a building, we can’t offer those services at all.”
Consequently, POW is extremely grateful for the extended support they’ve had from Lloyds Bank Foundation. Daniela says:
“Through our first grant we got the Lamplight database system, and now our second one is directed towards outreach and our Service Delivery Manager. On top of that we have a development package, so a communications expert is helping us draft a new strategy, and we’re also doing our PQASSO qualification.
“Lloyds Bank Foundation also recognises that CEOs need support. My development has been stilted because I concentrate on running POW, but staff do look to you for answers and you don’t know them all. Well, I was offered a place on a Sustainability and Leadership course and I’m still in touch with the people I met – we all support each other.
“I also had a mentor from Lloyds Banking Group, Becci Osborne. I had so many apprehensions, but Becci didn’t bring any sort of agenda, she was a critical friend who helped me navigate some of the most difficult times. She’s been my voice of reason, she’s taught me transferable skills and she taught me the importance of taking time out. I’ve learnt how to be CEO rather than a micromanager.”
Becci found that her role as Community and Charity Engagement Manager at Lloyds Banking Group helped her mentor Daniela:
“Even though I knew nothing about sex work, I had a lot to offer, drawing on management skills, coaching and experience in recruitment. I was a soundboard, talking things through and offering feedback, then when it came to making decisions I stepped back. It wasn’t my role to tell Daniela what to do, but I helped her consider various options.”
Daniela says the longstanding relationship between POW and their Grant Manager, Gary Beharrell, is hugely important:
“What really makes a difference is sitting down with Gary and being selective about what can make our foundations stronger. There’s so much on offer, but Gary knows POW and helps us work out what we actually need.”
Gary agrees that the relationship has helped grow the charity:
“POW were keen to learn and take advantage of every opportunity, quickly realising that as a funder we have so much more to offer than just grants. Our relationship with POW has blossomed, and it is now an equal partnership. They have developed so much, and it’s a privilege to be part of that.”