The girls from Tiger Bay head for the hills

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CARDIFF'S streetwise prostitutes are to get a taste of life in the country, spending a weekend canoeing and rock-climbing.

Later this month, 12 members of the city's flourishing community will exchange stilettos for sensible walking shoes, wave goodbye to the red lights and set off in a minibus for the Brecon Beacons.

The outing is being organised by Fairbridge, a charity offering personal development training to disadvantaged people.

The women have been alerted to the scheme by a social worker known, affectionately as 'the condom-girl' or 'the rubber-jilly', and a poster campaign in the Tiger Bay area promising 'a taste of adventure'. They must pay pounds 3 towards the costs and Fairbridge hopes some may join a 'personal development programme'.

'This is all about fun. We are taking the girls away from the

inner-city environment,' said Judy Curry, the Fairbridge team manager. 'It will give them a chance to sample something different and hopefully boost their self-esteem and self-awareness.'

The idea has been successful in the Netherlands and the United States, according to Outreach, an agency run by South Glamorgan Health Authority, which looks after the welfare of Cardiff's prostitutes. 'It will be a break in the

routine for these ladies,' said Richard Pates, the agency's clinical psychologist.

Linda Sell, one of the women booked on the outing, said her colleagues were very excited about the break because they frequently worked '24-hour days'.

'They gave us the choice of things to do, so we had a meeting and went for canoeing and rock climbing,' she said.

'We said no to abseiling because we thought it was being pulled along in a boat. We've since been told it means dropping down a cliff on a rope.

'I wouldn't mind but some of the girls are a bit on the big side and the rope might not be strong enough,' she added.