Coronavirus: Extra support for women involved in prostitution

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Extra funding has been pledged to support women involved in prostitution during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Scottish government said more than £61,000 will be allocated to nine organisations across the country.

The additional money will enable them to increase their staffing and improve access to support and trauma counselling.

Community Safety Minister Ash Denham said the lockdown has increased the risk of gender-based violence.

She added: "Women involved in prostitution may be experiencing extreme hardship due to Covid-19 as well as facing additional challenges which need to be addressed to ensure they have access to resources and support.

"No one should feel unsupported during this crisis. Stigma and the hidden nature of prostitution creates a barrier to engagement with mainstream services."

'Incredibly difficult times'

The funding will be delivered through the Encompass Network of support agencies over the next three months.

Linda Thompson, national co-ordinator for the Women's Support Project and Encompass Network, said: "Women involved in selling or exchanging sex in all settings have faced some incredibly difficult times recently and we know how hard it has been for them to overcome barriers for financial help.

"This will help offer more direct support to women who are facing difficulties, work alongside them to link into local services and offer some financial help. We need to make sure their needs are met now and in the future as well."

Members of the network include Aberdeen Cyrenians, Quay Services, Routes Out and Vice Versa.