Dundee charity axes support service for prostitutes due to lack of funding

A leading Dundee charity has been forced to axe its advice and support service for prostitutes due to a lack of funding.

Vice Versa works in partnership with Dundee and Angus Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (WRASAC) to promote the health, rights and dignity of sex workers.

The group, which has been based in Dundee for about 10 years, will close its doors on December 31.

Sinead Daly, of WRASAC, said it was really disappointing news.

She said: “Sadly, we will be forced to end the Vice Versa service at the end of the year because there is no further funding for us.

“This is devastating news. Vice Versa is used by many women in Dundee who are forced to turn to prostitution.

“We are currently working hard to ensure some sort of support for city prostitutes will be re-established but it could be several months before this can happen.

“Dundee City Council and NHS Tayside are involved in this but WRASAC will be bidding to be able to continue to work with the women. We are very concerned that, once we close, there will be a gap in the service.”

She added: “Many women are forced to turn to prostitution because of other issues in their lives, including substance addiction, homelessness and unemployment. There is a massive stigma attached to working in prostitution and not many places for these women to turn to.”

The charity supported 126 women involved in prostitution between April 2015 and March this year.

Of these, 69 had problematic drug issues, 36 had experienced homelessness, 12 had children in the care of social work, 33 were experiencing domestic abuse, 24 had been sexually exploited when they were a child or young person, and 21 had been raped.

A Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership spokesman said: “As part of the work to restructure substance misuse services, we are developing ways of delivering care and support from different localities in Dundee through multi-agency teams.

“The new model would involve providing direct help and support near to where they live for women who are involved in prostitution and substance misuse. In the meantime, substance misuse services are available through the current model.

“In addition, the Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership is actively supporting the development of future models of provision for women involved in prostitution.”