The range of complex needs and issues which must be addressed for sexually exploited women requires a multi-agency approach. Kairos WWT has been supporting vulnerable women in Coventry for 24 years and during that time we have established strong working partnerships.
We are a member of Coventry’s Women’s Partnership: led by Foleshill Women’s Training (FWT) and working alongside Coventry Haven Women’s Aid, CRASAC (Coventry Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre) and Central England Law Centre Coventry, with The Women’s Budget Group as our research partner during phase one of the partnership. We aim to improve social and economic outcomes for women by helping them more easily access multiple services and move smoothly between agencies. We also collectively advocate for women at a strategic level across the city.
Various service providers attend our Wonder Women Wednesdays daytime drop-in, including local housing associations, the Coventry Women’s Partnership Manager, and Central England Law Centre Coventry, who provide free legal advice. An Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) from Coventry Haven Women’s Aid attends to engage with women at risk of harm through domestic violence, who aren’t usually reached. An Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) from Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) attends when possible, again to try and reach out to women who wouldn’t typically access their services. Staff from Change Grow Live (CGL) can be found at WWW, bringing substance use services to our women. We’ve also had staff visit from Public Protection at the Police, Feeding Coventry, and the Adult Mental Health Team, all to reach out to women who typically ‘fall through the cracks’ of their services.
Our street based Outreach and Drop-in sessions are regularly delivered alongside staff from the local authority’s rough sleepers team and an NHS Specialist Substance Misuse Midwife.
We have a formal partnership with Valley House, who provide a range of accommodation and community-based services for vulnerable people in and around Coventry, including supported accommodation for victims of domestic abuse. We are able to fast track women who are ready to therapeutically address trauma for assessment and counselling. We work in partnership to remove barriers to the women attending their appointments and greater flexibility than usual is provided.
Our Blossoms group, which supports pregnant women and those who’ve had a baby to gain confidence and skills to become protective and nurturing mums, is delivered in partnership with an NHS Specialist Midwife who champions a trauma-informed approach, which in turn helps improve mum and baby’s pre- and post-natal health outcomes.
We work with the council’s housing, homelessness, and rough sleepers teams and numerous social and supported housing providers, including Citizen, Spring Housing, P3, Orbit and Verto Living. These connections help us source suitable accommodation and helps women to maintain their tenancies.
Women are supported to engage with Change Grow Live to address substance misuse, The Anchor Centre to improve their health, and Integrated Sexual Health (ISH) for STI screening and treatment, and access to contraception. We are now able to offer ‘in-house’ sexual health screening.
We also work alongside the local authority’s Horizons (child sexual exploitation) and Throughcare teams. We help women engage with Early Help, Child in Need and Child Protection Plans to support young women transitioning into adulthood and to empower all the women we support to safeguard their children.
Given the elevated level of violence experienced by women, and low reporting rates, we help women involved in prostitution make ‘Ugly Mugs’ reports which can help police identify dangerous predators targeting women involved in the sex industry.
We liaise regularly with HMP Peterborough’s partnerships manager and work with Probation and alongside Springboard (women’s justice provider). Our Specialist Justice Practitioner is increasing our reach at HMP Foston Hall and HMP Drake Hall.
Over several months in 2021 we worked with Coventry City Council’s Public Health Department and partners to contribute to the development of the local “On Street Sex Workers Needs Assessment”. Through collaborative working, we were able to influence a more trauma-informed approach to understanding and responding to prostitution. Several of the recommendations of the needs assessment are incorporated into our service delivery.
There are two local organisations working specifically with women involved in prostitution; Turnaround CIC (commissioned by the local council) and Embrace (a church based organisation). Together, we contribute the local ‘Sex Workers’ Assistance Network, coordinated by the Sexual Abuse and Assault Strategy Coordinator for Coventry and Warwickshire. Kairos WWT also contributes to the Regional ‘Sex Worker’ Forum, coordinated by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Kairos WWT actively contributes to local and regional forums including: the local Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference, Voluntary Sector Safeguarding Forum, Vulnerable Persons Forum, Rough Sleepers Forum, local Sexual Abuse and Assault Strategy group and Hillfields Network. We are a member of Coventry Homelessness Forum and Coventry Frontline Network, which shares learning amongst front-line homelessness workers.
In 2021, we established the Coventry Trauma Informed Network, which we launched with a training event. Sixty-six professionals from partner organisations attended, including Coventry Haven Women’s Aid, CRASAC, Embrace, The Anchor Centre, Birmingham’s Anawim and representatives from the Ministry of Justice, police, local authority, and NHS. Through this network, we aim to champion trauma informed practice and establish quality standards.
Kairos WWT are members of the following:
- ACEVO- Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations
- Agenda Alliance
- Beyond the Streets- Life Beyond Sexual Exploitation
- Charity Finance Group
- Clinks- Supporting the Voluntary Sector Working in the Criminal Justice System
- EVAW-End Violence Against Women Coalition
- Frontline Network- St. Martin in the Fields
- Homeless Link- Let’s End Homelessness Together
- NCVO- National Council for Voluntary Organisations
- Women’s Resource Centre- Sisterhood, Solidarity and Activism