In the lead up to International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Changing Lives are embarking on a new partnership with Merseyside police. This will be the first time a dedicated Police Sex Worker Liaison Officer has been appointed to help sex workers on Merseyside.

Project Red Umbrella has been created to help protect street sex workers from abuse and exploitation, including sexual violence and trafficking. The project will also investigate hate crimes against sex workers, and to encourage victims to report crimes committed against them.

Red Umbrella has been launched after securing funding from the Home Office as part of the government’s investment of £15m into the Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) Service Transformation Fund. The project, which will run until March 2020, will support sex workers both on the streets and online who are at risk of violence and abuse or have been victims of hate crimes.

Joe Sheppard, Changing Lives Area Manager for the North West, said:

“We feel we are in a privileged position in working in partnership with Merseyside Police and many others to deliver such an innovative and important service across Merseyside. We have an increasing understanding of the needs of women with experience of survival sex, sex work and sexual exploitation so it is fantastic to see specifically targeted funding being made available for this important work. We are acutely aware of the challenges but are confident that all partners will work together to deliver and continue to improve our Services to Women across Merseyside.”

Changing Lives’ partnership in this project will build on our existing advocacy work in Merseyside, as part of our services for vulnerable people and specifically for those involved in sex work. By collaborating in projects like Red Umbrella, Changing Lives continues to provide specialist support and services to people across the nation, helping 21,000 vulnerable people and their families each year to change their lives for the better.