Can you help us to buy a van for outreach work with women involved in prostitution?
On 30 October the women’s charity Eaves closed down. One of their services was the London Exiting and Advocacy (LEA) Project.
The LEA Project offers non-judgemental support to women in prostitution. The barriers for women who want to exit are many and complex. The LEA project helps them access housing and welfare benefits, legal advice, healthcare, drug and alcohol services and specialist counselling. It also supports women to access employment, training, education, volunteering and sustainable employment.
The funders of the service – The Big Lottery, Charles Hayward Foundation and Hounslow council – have agreed to transfer funding to The Nia Project so that this vital service can continue. But the van that was used for night-time outreach work was seized by the administrator when Eaves closed down, so we need to raise the funds to buy a replacement.
Can you help us buy the van so that we can continue to reach women who want to leave prostitution – women who might not otherwise know that there is someone to help them?
If you can spare even £10, it would be a big help. For more information on Nia, visit our website at http://www.niaendingviolence.org.uk or talk to our CEO Karen Ingala Smith or chair Helen Lewis on Twitter.
You’ll be helping us support women like Nicky:
Nicky came onto the LEA outreach van just after midnight. She seemed uneasy, but came on to the van to have a hot chocolate out of the wind and rain. Nicky said it was slow that night. The outreach night time worker explained the services that LEA could offer. Nicky left the van with condoms and sweets and the phonenumber for LEA, she did not give her contact number. Two weeks passed. Then, one lunch time, Nicky called the LEA number from a payphone and told us that she had been beaten up the night before and wanted to talk to someone. The LEA worker called the payphone back and arranged to meet Nicky in a café close to where she was. The LEA worker got to the café within the hour and waited a further 45 minutes. Nicky came in the the café and was wet and cold. Nicky wanted to talk about what had happened and was hungry and needed practical things. She hadn’t had access to her medication in several weeks and was struggling with her mental health. Nicky came back to the service and got a warm coat and some food and was put in emergency accommodation that night. With Nicky’s permission, the LEA worker contacted her mental health support services and ensured that she was able to access the support that she needed. The following day Nicky came back to LEA and told her story and said she wanted to get out. Nicky is still working with the LEA service to exit.
I became Chair of Eaves in May 2015. I was faced with a substantial funding deficit of more than £700K, coupled with a depleting reserves position and weak fundraising pipeline. Together with the Board of Trustees, I therefore took the very difficult decision on the 30th September 2015 to close down Eaves. This decision allowed me to oversee and conduct a structured closure, giving priority to informing donors and safeguarding services for our beneficiaries – transferring services to other organisations where possible. Specifically,
- Lea, our exiting prostitution service now resides with Nia.
- Lilith, our advocacy, campaign and research programme and no recourse expertise also resides with Nia and has received additional funding from the Lankelly Chase Foundation.
- The Beth Centre will continue
- Unfortunately it has not been possible to safeguard the Trio/Lifeskillsproject
- Unfortunately, it has not been possible to safeguard Poppy. All service users have been signposted to other service providers so that their support needs can continue to be met. We are still looking at options to establish Poppy as its own legal entity.
It is with huge sadness that Eaves announces that it will cease operations on 30th October 2015.
Eaves has been operational since 1977 and is particularly known for its specialist services for women victims of violence. These include :-
- the Poppy project which has supported some 2000 women victims of trafficking since its inception and helped 45 women bring their traffickers to justice obtaining combined sentence of 423 years.
- the London Exiting Advocacy project for women exiting prostitution which is linked to unique primary research with 114 women and a specialist exiting prostitution training programme.
- the Alice project which has averted homelessness for 294 women this year women with multiple and complex disadvantages including no recourse to public funds, mental health, benefit “sanctions”, child custody, needing access to foodbanks and transport and basic welfare etc.
Chair, Louisa Cox, said “Eaves has done its best to ensure service users have other services to go to and we have been able to transfer some of our projects to other organisations. The quality of services and safety and well being of our service users has always been our priority”.
More information about onward referrals for service users and support services is available on this site.
With reference to how Eaves reached this state of affairs, Ms Cox, continued,
“Eaves has had to contend with high rents, project funding that does not cover the core costs so an increasing deficit and most recently the tragic illness, and subsequent loss, of our inspirational CEO Denise Marshall. We have taken a range of measures to diversify our funding base, increase donations, cut costs, move offices, but ultimately none of these steps was enough to save us”.
Cuts, reductions and closures have of course hit a whole range of non-governmental organisations. However, there is much evidence to suggest that women are bearing the brunt. Fair Deal for Women found that it is women who have paid off 79% of the deficit to date. It is more likely to be women in low-paid, insecure, part-time and public sector work, it is more likely to be women with caring responsibilities who may have to top up their incomes or rely exclusively on benefits and it is more likely to be women who need to rely on public, voluntary sector and specialist services. Yet these are precisely the areas being cut.
But it is not purely and simply cuts that are at play. It is abysmal commissioning whereby commissioners either do not know or do not care what they should be looking for or how to assess a bid other than by lowest unit cost with no regard to quality.
This is evidenced by the fact that large, generic, non-specialist organisations are winning tenders, expanding, accumulating vast reserves and specialist, smaller organisations with 40+ years of history with high levels of self referrals from women (a sure sign of the value of the service to the women) – are shrinking and having to use their scarce reserves to survive.
The Independence Panel in their report “An Independent Mission ; the voluntary sector in 2015” have been charting, since 2011, a combined attack on the voluntary sector. They highlight gagging clauses, poor commissioning and threats to the distinctive identity, character and campaigning voice of the sector to name but a few.
Big society, transparency and accountability touted by the Libdem-Conservative Government when they came into power, always had a hollow ring to some of us.
Cox said, “Cutting away and undermining accountability mechanisms and the independent voice, purpose and action of the sector is the completion of an ideological project to shrink the state, silence opposition and monetise misery”.
“But both the staff and the service users at Eaves are resilient and determined. Even if Eaves is not there, the women who have made Eaves what it was are still there and still fighting. The fight to end male violence against women continues and will be won.”