Sex workers project given £200,000 grant

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The Independent Online

A project which helps pregnant sex workers in Bristol to have and raise their children has received nearly £200,000 of government funds.

Naomi House, run by the charity One23, allows five women and their children to stay for up to 23 months and receive support to stay off the streets.

The cash, from the Department of Children, Schools and Families' Parenting Fund, will cover staff costs at the centre for a two-year trial period to promote the scheme to Bristol City Council.

Fundraising officer Josie Hill said: "It's a massive boost for the families at the centre to know the government cares about them, it's not something they're used to.

"There's nowhere in Bristol for these women to go, they're addicted to some of the most addictive drugs possible. Their babies have to go through drug withdrawal and then get taken into care."

One23 also runs a befriending service, which aims to help women stop abusing drugs and learn new skills, and an outreach team offering food, drinks and advice to sex workers.

Research by the charity showed that nearly 80% of sex workers who have babies lose them into care, and the centre already has a waiting list of women wanting to come in.

The project has been running since January, and Ms Hill described one patient, known as Georgia, who had ended up on the streets after a background of abuse and care homes.

Georgia was involved in drug use and contact with a violent partner, and had six children taken into care before she came to the centre with a seventh.

Mrs Hill said: "She never dreamed she'd be able to stay with this child but they're both here and getting on well, her baby is very clever."