21 Questions with Criminology Professor Teela Sanders, Director for Research, University of Leicester

By Raven Bowen

In Case You Missed It…Teela*





Q: So, What do you do?

A: I’m the Director of Research and so I look after other research agendas, I facilitate and encourage research activities. My job is increasingly admin related but I try to keep myself thinking that I’m a research full time and a teacher… but the reality of it is that it’s the other way around, which you don’t really expect. You expect time to do research and autonomy but you don’t get that. Totally disillusioned I guess, LOL!

Q: And your favourite colour?
A: Purple, purple flowers and the bookThe Colour Purpleit was one of my first and favourite ever novels. Even though I don’t own anything purple at all. I used to have a purple car when I was younger.

Q: What are you most proud of?
A: Being a vegetarian for most of my life. To carnivores that sounds ridiculous but since the age of 11 I became aware of animal rights and since that age it’s probably the only thing that I’ve done consistently well over my whole life.

Q: Why did you choose the sex industry as a topic for your intellectual pursuits?
A: Well I think it chose me. I’ve always been one for the underdog, I’ve always been one to shout if you’ve got a voice and I’ve always done that. I went out to New York and volunteered with an HIV/AIDS organization when I was at university and I met sex workers who were volunteers and they just totally blew me away. Their lives, the stigma… and I was just like this is a cool group of people and I came back to the UK at looked at things from an academic point of view and that passion for sex workers just stayed with me and opened up the whole debate for me around sexuality and sex work and why this group of people get so stigmatized and outlawed and are the targets of our angst around sexuality. I was also very interested in the contradictions in capitalism and sex work being part of that, so I think it grabbed me politically and personally as it relates to regulation, policy and you see the inequalities. 

Q: The last thing you laughed about?
A: Well it’s my mum’s birthday today so I was laughing with her about her bucket list. She’s 69 today and we had a laugh as she’s writing her 10-year bucket list. She’s just got one thing on it at the moment and I thought that was pathetic. I want her to add a Caribbean cruise for the whole family so it becomes our bucket list!

Q: What’s your favourite food?
A: Oh Curry! Indian food is my favourite food.

Q: Your current project or pursuit?
A: I have another Wellcome Trust project on homicide and mental health which I’ve just started. My other pursuits as in lifetime pursuits is that I’m really into camping at the moment and getting living in the outdoors is part of my agenda. We’ve got our greenhouse and our chickens and I fire pit so we try to be in the outdoors as much as possible.

Q: What’s your biggest regret?
A:  I’m one of those people who don’t really have regrets. Roll with the punches I’d say. Not to say my life has been all happy with flowers but I don’t dwell in the past. Things happen for a reason.

Q: So Facebook or Twitter?
A: Oh definitely Facebook for family and friends only, but Twitter is kind of the devil! I think that forcing complicated stuff into 140 characters… it’s the devil. 

Q: What challenges you the most about your sex work related work?
A: Never having enough time and trying to make sense of something …so doing something decent within a finite amount of time. But in terms of sex work research has always been the challenge in trying to make changes and how academics are in a position to do that but are also very constrained, particularly in this area, so much time is taken up trying to quiet down the critics that the actual change can kind of get lost. So the challenge is getting past all of that and trying to make small steps and move things forward nationally, internationally and trying to be the critical voice. The challenge is the revolving door, sometimes you see 5 years later the same stuff comes up among a different set of politicians. I’ve seen the same issues about 2 or 3 times now and it’s the same stuff and in all that time you’re thinking where’s the change? It’s like flares, they’ll come back around again. Individually it can be a bit deflating but collectively we must take things forward with good evidence-based research. 

Q: Favourite Movie?
A: I’m a bit fickle on the movies…I love P.S. I love You and The Color Purple.

Q: And the last time you cried?
I don’t know probably everyday over something, LOL! I definitely cried when George Michael died. That definitely made me sad and looking back on his videos and music from Wham! it’s really sad.

Q: Cat or dog person?
A: Oh dog! My partner’s got a cat that instantly took a dislike to me…it’s the rival meeeooowwww! They’re feral animals! If you fall over and had a stroke they would probably eat you! You can’t take them for a walk or anything, what’s the point of a cat? I do not get it!

Q: Who understands you?
A: Probably my dad and my partner.

Q: What’s the last book or article you read?
I read a philosophy book over the weekend calledConstellations of Philosophyby Alain Botton but to my son and I read the Famous Five series from the 1960s.

Q: Childhood Fear?
A: Snakes, massively! I’ve had one around my neck last year when I had animal parties for the kids and I didn’t want them to have my fear but as soon as the head started moving I had to get it off me!

Q: What did your last text say?
A: My last text was ‘Do you want me to make you a cup of tea?’

Q: One thing that your work is aimed to do for the sex industry?
A: Provide a space for alternative voices.

Q: The meaning of life in one word?
A: Love!

Q: The last thing you Googled?
A: The nine times table and the Mad Hatter for a costume for my son!

Q: What do/did you want to be when you grow/grew up?
A: I wanted to work with the law. I wanted to be a solicitor or a barrister when I was a teenager. It’s bizarre and I just thought it would be way to boring because I’m far too liberal to do that kind of stuff. It’s far too much of a serious profession for me.

*Original interview conducted February 13th, 2017

Next week: Alex Feis-Bryce, Founding CEO and Advisor to National Ugly Mugs, now Advisor to Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.

Please Note: The Goal of the ’21 Questions’ series is to get to know sex industry professionals, other parties, and researchers in our network. The series will alternate profiling interesting people who support the human and labour rights, dignity and respect of those involved in sex industries. 

21 Questions with sex worker ‘Hannah’

By Raven Bowen

In Case You Missed It…Hannah*


Q: So Hannah, what do you do?
A: I’m an escort and I have been since I was 19. I enjoy it most of the time. I learn a lot off my clients and I hate some of them (laughter). I travel about to people’s houses and some of them I allow them to come to my house.

Q: Favourite Colour?
A: To wear is black because it makes you look slim all of the time but yellow just makes me feel really good it’s that bright, bright colour. Q: Never together to go for the bumble bee look? A: No (laughter) I never put them together actually!

Q: One thing you’re most proud of?
A:  I’m proud of getting off drugs and proud of being self-employed. I’m competent at managing myself and obviously I can work when I want and when I don’t want. I don’t have to obey anybody, I obey myself and make my own choices.

Q: Why the sex industry?
A: When I got off drugs, which was hard drugs, I had a desire for money I suppose, earning money because I’d been shoplifting. And I moved out of an area and it was something that was suggesting to me and I started doing the escorting and I was addicted there and then. I never did escorting when I was on drugs, it was when I got clean I had a big hole and a gap in my life and it was suggested about escorting and I did it.

I was instantly addicted because I straight away came out with that money and I felt incredible and I continued and maybe it was a control thing or maybe I swapped my addiction for drugs for money and it empowered me and it blends with my entrepreneurial desire.

Q: The last thing you laughed about?
A: Yesterday when I was in the voting ballot box [Brexit Vote June 23, 2016) and somebody brought their dog in and said that it was called Boris! Q: Was it a wild haired dog? A: It did have wild hair and we said he could come in and vote!

Q: Your favourite food?
A: My favourite food is prawns and seafood, although I’m trying to come off it because of the cruelty aspect. So big dilemma. I’m a pescatarian at the moment. I do love fish, particularly prawns.

Q: Current project of pursuit?
A: A new business venture [not disclosed to protect Hannah’s privacy].

Q: Biggest regret?
A: Biggest regret is not saving money and banking it into the system earlier on in my life and that came from the fear of being a sex worker and banking my money. Q: Because you feared that it would get seized? A: Yeah, you don’t want to go in to the bank…you don’t know what to say. Eventually I learned but if I had done that in my 20’s I would be a multi-millionairess!

Q: Facebook of Twitter?
A: Neither, I don’t like any of it but for my new business it will be both. Personally no, and I think Facebook’s actually very damaging. A friend just got off of it and she was just saying that she was so addicted to putting pictures of herself up every day and it controlled her life. Luckily I haven’t been able to be on it because of being a sex worker. People could see you on it and try to create trouble for you.

Q: What challenges you the most about your sex work-related activities?
A: I want to please each client and the biggest challenge for me is shy clients and quiet ones. Everything else is easy, getting apartments to work from, getting my clothes, managing my diary, that’s all easy. I love clients who are very responsive and the counselling and everything else I do but the ones who are shy, who I want to reach out to but they have so many barriers, that’s hard for me. They can be so distrusting and I want to help them and I want to connect with them.

Q: Favourite movie?
A: Midnight Express where the guy gets caught with weed in Turkey. It’s a true story and it’s awful and it’s about him in prison in Turkey and he gets put in this mental institution and there’s a scene where his wife comes to visit him after 3 years and it’s done very raw…

Q: Last time you cried?
A: Not long ago because I just had a baby and it was about animal cruelty.

Q: Dog or cat person?
A: Dog, I don’t trust cats! And they’re scratchy!

Q: Who understands you?
A: I suppose my husband and academics and that’s about it…strangers. You know when you smile at a stranger and you know that they understand that smile and they’ve appreciated it and they give you one back or they’ve given you one first. I would say that more than sometimes, my family or friends. Just in that moment, it’s so bloody powerful and it’s an amazing connection. Apart from if it’s a guy and he comes running backward going ‘can I have your number?’ and you’re like for ‘fuck sakes mate I was just being fucking nice now… do one!’

Q: Last book or article you read?
A:Ask and it is Given: learning to manifest your desires’ by Esther and Jerry Hicks

Q: Childhood fear?
A: That a crocodile was going to bite my bum in bed! I had to wear pants because I was convinced that I would get bitten. And death, I contemplated it a lot when I was a kid.

Q: What did your last text say?
A: ‘I’m sorry for being a twat’ because I shouted at my partner today.

Q: One thing that your work is aimed to do for the sex industry?
A: Just to help other workers to realize how they can do this as a business, not to feel shame about it, and not to listen to other people. Listen to yourself and to be strong with it.

Q: Meaning of life in one word?
A: Kindness

Q: The last thing you Googled?
A: Esther Hicks

Q: What did/do you want to be when you grow up?
A: When I was a kid I wanted to be a vet

*The original interview with ‘Hannah’ was conducted June 24th 2016.

Next week, Prof. Teela Sanders.

Please Note: The Goal of the ’21 Questions’ series is to get to know sex industry professionals, other parties, and researchers in our network. The series will alternate profiling interesting people who support the human and labour rights, dignity and respect of those involved in sex industries. 

21 Questions with Professor Maggie O’Neill

vBy Raven Bowen

In case you missed it…Maggie Gets a Grilling!*

Maggie Pic

  1.  What do you do?
    I’m a Chair in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at York and I am co- chair of the Sex Work Research Hub.
  1. Favorite Color?
    Green! I like grass green, Emerald and I like red. Although red and green should never be seen! I like red and green together. 
  1. One thing that you are most proud of?
    Oh, can I have two…okay, my boys. I’m very proud of my  boys. And as a feminist when I had boys I thought it was divine retribution but they are really great men and feminist men. And I’m also really proud of the work I’ve done around sex work, migration and the collaborations. 
  1. Why the sex industry?
    I was invited to do a piece of research on ‘prostitution’ in Nottingham  funded by Home Office ‘Safe Cities Money’ in 1989 the focus was to improve safety in certain Northern cities. I took  what I called ‘woman centered’ approach and spoke to sex workers about their experiences of first hand then other agencies. I met an outreach worker, Karen Hughes, who was working on her own to provide outreach to sex workers and she  also created a sexual health drop-in center in Nottingham for all people including sex workers. The research led to what I think was the first multi agency forum that included sex workers as equal partners in 1990. Sex workers said ‘don’t think you can just come out and take from us and go off and build your career!’ What a fantastic entry into empirical research! It’s a knowledge transfer, you’re facilitating you’re not owning it. I got to participatory action research through that model. 
  1. Last thing you laughed about?
    Yesterday, in a workshop with migrant girls. The project is looking at what it’s like to live in London for migrant girls and Mothers. The project combines walking and theatre-based methods and we had a fun finale to the workshop with girls,  they did a catwalk in the hall to play different characters and were playing/acting as ‘bad girls’, ‘good girls’, ‘nerdy girls’, ‘strict moms’ and we all laughed. They were so amazing! 
  1. Favorite food?
    Um, that’s a hard one. Chocolate and haloumi. But not together. Haloumi salad. 
  1. Current project or pursuit?
    The Sex work project, Hidden Lives of Female Sex Workers in Teesside. It’s participatory action research, peer-led. Women have interviewed other women about their lives and we are currently analyzing and the report will be launched on the 15th of July in Durham. So it’s kind of a Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexuality legacy project.  
  1. Biggest regret?
    Well I don’t really do regrets but I wish I had spent more time with my kids when they were young.
  1. Facebook or Twitter?
    Twitter, I love Twitter!
  1. What challenges you the most in your sex work related activities? Definitely the tension between academia and sex work. The power around who gets heard. If I could wave a magic wand it would be to flatten than, so I think what we do is use it and make sure that at every opportunity, if you’re doing something academic it must be collaborative -the participatory action research model is helpful. I hope the Sex Work HUB can build on that. Sex workers say ‘Nothing about us without us.’
  1. Favorite movie?
    It’s called ‘Silenceand it’s by an Irish filmmaker called Pat Collins and his wife Sharon Whooley. 
  1. Last time you cried?
    Yesterday (May 19th) after the workshop for girls. They were talking about family life and how their parents worked really hard and other struggles. Doing Theatre methods can remind you or  bring to the fore things that you haven’t thought about for a long time. So what made me cry was an experience of stigma, of  racial and class stigma. I was reminded about this moment with my mum when she was being interviewed about money for our school uniforms. I was about 10 [years old] and this man treated my mum like the dirt under his feet. And so, I cried yesterday on the way to the tube station, being reconnected to that feeling—the humiliation she experienced and being connected to the stigma of class politics. And of course that is then the fuel for my work. It drives me.
  1. Are you a cat or a dog person? Dog! Totally Dog! 
  1. Who understands you?
    Oh, I’m not sure who gets me. I think Steve [husband] probably gets me! Hopefully, yeah. And my kids do…I think so, I’m not sure!
  1. Last book or article you read? So the last book I read  Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border by Colm Tóibín who walked the Irish border during the troubles. It really gives you a good insight into sectarian politics.
  1. Childhood fear?
    Spiders. I like them now… 
  1. What did your last text say?
    I’m here Raven” 
  1. One thing that your work is aimed to do for the sex industry?
    Decriminalization, you know we need people to challenge the law and we have great lawyers in the HUB. I think in the HUB we have all of the necessary partners to bring together to really go for decriminalization.
  1. Meaning of life (One Word)?
  1. What’s the last thing you googled?
    ‘Premier Inn free wifi’ because I was staying at premier Inn in London. 
  1. What did/do you want to be when you grow/grew up?
    Well I did want to be an air hostess but then I got put off from working at Pizza Hut. But actually what I would really like is to be is a filmmaker!

*The was our first 21 Questions. The interview with Maggie O’Neill was conducted May 20th 2016. Next up, Hannah, a sex worker/madame.

Please Note: The Goal of the ’21 Questions’ series is to get to know sex industry professionals, other parties, and researchers in our network. The series will alternate profiling interesting people who support the human and labour rights, dignity and respect of those involved in sex industries. 

Autumn Newsletter


  • Dr Joanna Busza’s work in Zimbabwe resulted in a very short commentary in Journal of International AIDS Society –here’s the link (and it’s open access): http://www.jiasociety.org/index.php/jias/article/view/21860/html It’s an example of how one legal case and the surrounding publicity actually reduced police discrimination.
  • Dr Erin Sanders-Mcdonagh Women and Sex Tourism Landscapes presents ten years of ethnographic research on female tourists’ interactions with highly sexualized spaces and places in these two very different national contexts, and argues that the visual consumption of sexual spectacle by female tourists requires a new conceptualisation of the what constitutes sex tourism.  This text explores the ways in which these sexualized spaces are presented and constructed, and examines the different relations that govern the management of, and female tourist interactions with these liminal, eroticised zones. Data collected in both countries suggests that far from being male-centred spaces, the red light districts and associated sexual entertainment venues are very much open to female tourists, and argues that the nature of these particular spaces and places as authentic tourist sites/sights invites women to consume sexual entertainment in ways that are normally ‘off-limits’ to women in other national settings. The author argues that many women tourists in Thailand and there Netherlands are not only interested in exploring sexualized zones, but do so in surprisingly large numbers, challenging many existing assumptions about women’s involvements with sexual space and their attendant sexual agency. Thinking specifically about the visual nature of women’s sexualized experiences, the analysis draws on a range of different theoretical understandings that address power, privilege, and the gaze. The book ultimately concludes that the stigmatisation of sex work is highly problematic as it allows female sex workers to be read in reductive ways by female consumers, and argues for the decriminalization of sex work as a way to decrease the stigma association with all forms of sexual entertainment. An important contribution to a range of debates, this book will appeal to students and researchers in tourism, geography, sociology, gender studies and cultural theory.
  • Angelika Strohmayer, Dr. Mary Laing, and Rob Comber and is titled: Technologies and Social Justice Outcomes in Sex Work Charities: Fighting Stigma, Saving Lives   See the accompanying conference presentation at CHI’17 (Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems).
  • Kate ListerThe pen is mightier than the whore: Victorian newspapers and the sex-work saviour complex.” The title of the book is The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex and Sexuality.
  • Heidi Hoefinger and Srorn Srun (2017) “At-Risk” or “Socially Deviant”?  Conflicting Narratives and Grassroots Organizing of Sex/Entertainment Workers and LGBT Communities in Cambodia, Social Sciences, Special Issue: Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking Toward the Future,  6(3), 93; doi:10.3390/socsci6030093

Conference Presentations

♦Feminist Emergency conference at Birkbeck 22-24th June 2017  the organisers invited a panel on Sex Work as follows:

This panel reviews the 2017 Home Affairs Select Committee report into Prostitution and the government response to it, from the perspective of those involved or interested in the industry. Voice will be given to critical reflection on the interrelations of race and feminist concerns with sexual labour, as well as evaluating the type of work that sex work might be, and the relationship between feminisms and activisms, in the service of social justice for sex workers. Chaired by Julia Laite (Birkbeck)  and organised by Katherine Angel (Birkbeck)  there were three panel speakers, Laura Watson (English Collective of Prostitutes), Angela Dimitrakaki (Edinburgh College of Art) and Maggie O’Neill (University of York). Laura in turn invited the fabulous Empower collective from Thailand

to join the session with a performative feminist ‘intervention.’  Wearing doctor’s coats and stethoscopes the collective dealt with the feminist emergency by handing out information and support  and care to the audience. The presentations and discussions highlighted various feminist readings  and representations of sex work, activist, academic and practical/material  with a clear focus on social justice, citizenship, status recognition and the decriminalisation of sex work.

♦Heidi Hoefinger and Nicola Mai (2017) Sex work, migration and trafficking in NYC– Preliminary findings from the Sexual Humanitarianism study, Society for the Study of Social Problems 67th Annual Conference (panel: Challenging and Resisting Neo/Liberalism in Sexualities Activism and Research); August, Montreal, Canada

♦Several members of the SWRH presented at the annual British Society Criminology conference in Sheffield early July. The following papers got some interesting feedback and much support:

  • Peer Talk: Hidden Stories-A Participatory Research project with Women Who Sell of Swap Sex in Teesside. Maggie O’Neill, Alison Jobe, Kelly Stockdale and community co-researchers
  • Following the Money: the differential economics of on street and off street sex work.
  • Alison Jobe, Maggie O’Neill, Kelly Stockdale and community co-researchers
  • Lucy Neville (Middlesex University) and Erin Sanders-McDougal (Kent University) Gentrification and the Criminalization of Sex Work: Exploring the Sanitization of Sex Work in Kings Cross with the sue of ASBOs and CBOs
  • Commercial Sex in the Digital Age: Crimes;Safety & Strategy
  • Teela Sanders*, Jane Scoular**, Rosie Campbell*, Jane Pitcher**, Stewart Cunningham** (*University of Leicester, ** University of Strathclyde) and community co-researchers

♦We are keen to have the SWRH represented at the 2018 conference in Birmingham City University 3-6th July. Contact with Prof. Teela Sanders for details.

♦SEX, WORK, LAW AND SOCIETY UPDATE …report from Mexico June 2017
The Sex, Work, Law and Society Collaborative Research Network (CRN #6) held its inaugural sessions at the annual Law and Society Conference in Mexico City June 20-23rd 2017. CRN #6 was the brainchild of Menaka Raguparan, a PhD Candidate at Carlton University in Ottawa. Coordinators include: Prof. Chris Bruckert University of Ottawa, Raven Bowen PhD Candidate, University of York UK; and Dr. Tuulia Law Sessional Assistant Professor, York University, Toronto, and joining us this year, Dr. Tamara O’Doherty Lecturer, SFU, Vancouver.

The June conference comprised seven sessions, with sex work researchers from around the world presenting on migration, trafficking, regulation, the experiences of third parties, tropes, and the political economy. In additional to the enlightening presentations, we hosted a dinner with special guests representing Casa Xochiquetzal, a home for active and former elderly sex workers. With the generous donations from CRN attendees, we contributed 14,516.91 pesos to support the work of this tenacious sex worker organization. Please view the event Storify for pictures and conference tweets.

Upcoming Events and Conferences

  • The North East Sex Work Forum will be hosting this year’s Regional Learning Day on 16 November at Middlesbrough Football Ground. There will be the usual range of speakers, stalls and workshops. For more information contact Gaynor Trueman on: gaynor_trueman@hotmail.co.uk
  • CALL FOR ABSTRACTS – LSA Annual Conference will be held in Toronto, Canada, June 7-10th 2018
    The theme of the 2018 meeting is Law at the Crossroads/ Le droit à la croisée des chemins. As such, we interpret the meeting theme as an opportunity to explore issues such as: law as both a tool of oppression and as a tool to challenge oppression and how sex workers and allies navigate this field; the growth of critical legal studies and the resulting recognition of law as inherently political rather than a neutral abstract notion of justice; the rise of nationalist and populist powers and their effects on marginalized groups, including but not limited to sex workers, who have seen their human rights gains rolled back or threatened; the limitations of law where public opinion or political will is resistant to reform or supportive of harmful laws; the use of evidence in law and the challenges that arise with increased use of social science evidence and experts in courts; the politicized, rather than empirical, basis for law and the resulting quandary for the sex workers’ rights movement in seeking labour and human rights through legal mechanisms; the ethics of engagement with law, a primary tool and feature of colonization, where decolonization and Indigenization are goals; the recognition of the violence of law, or the limitations/failures of legal institutions and the need for fundamental institutional change; new directions for sex workers, allies and the movement, given the current legal and political landscape.   We have extended the deadline for Abstracts to CRN #6 for the Law and Society Annual Meeting in Toronto, June 7-10th 2018.  Please Submit a 200-250 word Abstract byTHURSDAY OCTOBER 12TH 2017 5PM PST OR 10PM BST  using this link http://www.lawandsociety.org/Toronto2018/2018-submit-menu.html
    and indicate your affiliation as CRN #6.
    All proposals for paper presentations, panel (salon) sessions, round table discussions and Author meets Reader sessions will be accepted through LSA’s automated submission system. You can find more details about the automated submission system here http://www.lawandsociety.org/MexicoCity2017/2017-types-submit.html.If you are already planning a LSA session with at least four panelists (and papers) that you would like to see included in the Sex, Work, Law and Society CRN 6, please contact Menaka at menaka.raguparan@carleton.ca
  • BtG Beyond the gaze Launch conference 23rd January 2018 Manchester A one day conference event to launch findings of the Beyond the Gaze (BtG) research project, the largest study to date of UK internet based sex work in the UK. Participants will hear from a wide range of expert speakers from: academia, sex work community, policy, health and social care practice, take part in workshops linked to the research findings and have the opportunity to hear about several new resources based on Beyond the Gaze. Follow this LINK for tickets.
  • Postgraduate Sex Work Conference  March 26th 2018, University of Northumbria, Newcastle. Organised by Dr. Mary Laing and colleagues.  Watch this space for call for abstracts!
  • Sex work and the ARTS!
    We have just announced the tour of Sex Worker’s Opera  going to Cambridge. Weston-Super-Mare, Sheffield and London! We are so excited to bring the show to different audiences outside of London and connect with people. We are going to be giving creative workshops to sex workers in the local areas and advocacy/101 worjshops to groups of potential allies – LGBTQIA+ groups, Feminist groups, migrant women’s groups, human rights organisations and universities.
    If any groups in Cambridge, Sheffield, Weston-super-Mare would like a workshop please get in touch to clare@sexworkersopera.com or siobhan@sexworkersopera.co
    Press Release
    Press Pack

Launch of the Teesside  Peer Talk:hidden stories Research project, June 2017
Almost one year after submitting the report, Peer Talk: hidden stories [funded by Northern Rock and managed by A Way Out in Stockton] was launched in the North East. Durham University researchers  (Maggie O’Neill and Alison Jobe) were commissioned to undertake oversight of the research, train the community /peer researchers, design the research and research tools, gain ethical approval and lead the analysis and write up of the report in collaboration with the research team. The research team included Colleen Bilton, Kelly Stockdale, Hannah, Cath and community co-researchers who did not want to be named. The research complements participatory research undertaken by Changing Lives and Mary Laing and Adele Irving at Northumbria University in Tyne and Wear, also funded by Northern Rock.

Peer Talk: hidden stories sought to provide an evidence base to inform service provision, knowledge, policy and practice in Teesside and specifically to:

  • Document the lived experience and needs of women selling sex both on and off street, including their use and experience of services;
  • Document the experience of key stakeholders providing services to women selling sex both on and off street;
  • Document the key issues highlighted by both sex workers and stakeholders;
  • Produce targeted information for local service providers, policy-makers and key regulators in the region;
  • Contribute to research, academic and policy debates in the North East region and also nationally;
  • Use a participatory peer driven methodology to undertake the research and build research capacity.

What We Did
Community co-researchers interviewed women selling sex about their experiences, needs and support, and the key issues affecting them. The researchers were instrumental in producing research to help us to better understand the lives and needs of women and to further develop services to support women in Teesside.
The community co-researchers undertook 9 interviews with escorts selling sex from flats and on-line; 17 interviews with women who were, or who had recently worked selling sex on street; and 21 interviews with stakeholders.

How We Did It
The research was conducted using participatory action research methods. The community co-researchers were trained in participatory methods, designed the research and research tools in collaboration with the University research team, A Way Out and Barnardos SECOS project staff and volunteers. Twelve people completed this training: five current or former sex workers, five project workers and two A Way Out volunteers.  The community co-researchers were supported in the process by research buddies. They conducted the interviews together. Research buddies were project staff or volunteers who also undertook the participatory action research training.
Get in touch with Maggie maggie.oneill@york.ac.uk or Alison Jobe alison.jobe@durham.ac.uk if you would like a pdf copy of the report whilst the project web site is being updated.

  • East london logo  East London Project update: the qualitative study is underway. The East London Project is a new participatory research project to see how removing police enforcement against sex work could affect sex workers’ safety, health and access to services in East London. We will use the results to advocate for evidence-based policy and practice to protect the safety, health and rights of sex workers in the UK and internationally. We’re a multidisciplinary team of health and social scientists, sex worker rights activists and practitioners, based at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), University of York, University of Bristol, Imperial College London and Homerton University Hospital. Our key partners are Open Doors and National Ugly Mugs, and some of our co-researchers are SWARM members. The project is led by Dr Lucy Platt and co-led by Pippa Grenfell.
    The project involves carrying out neighbourhood walks and interviews, and a two-part survey, with sex workers working in Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets. We are also interviewing other adults who work in the sex industry (e.g. maids, receptionists, security) and people who work with or make decisions that affect sex workers locally. We will use these results, together with routine data on the total number of arrests of sex workers and clients in the boroughs, to develop a computer model – designed to resemble the “real-world” using mathematical equations – to predict how removing enforcement could affect sex workers’ health, safety and access to services over time.
    Since August we’ve been accompanying Open Doors on outreach, attending clinics and drop-ins, and getting in touch with people online, which have been great ways to meet people working in the boroughs. We’ve started interviewing but we’re still looking for more people to take part, so please do get in touch if you or someone you know is interested in participating. We’re interviewing people who sell sex in Hackney, Newham or Tower Hamlets (now or in the past year) – any sector (direct services), 18+, all genders. Contact Pippa on 07948 906026; email: elp@lshtm.ac.uk. We’re also about to start recruiting a team of freelance co-researchers for the surveys (October/November 2017 – July 2019), so if you have experience and/or knowledge of sex work in East London and are interested in getting involved, please get in touch. Contact Jocelyn on 0207 612 7824; email: elp@lshtm.ac.uk. To find out more about the project check out our website: blogs.lshtm.ac.uk/eastlondonproject. Follow us and tweet us @EastLndProject.
  • STudent sex logo   News from Wales
    We have been out the summer spreading the word about the harms associated with stigmatising student sex work www.thestudentsexworkproject.co.uk  We were delighted to be asked by PXL University College, Hasselt, Belgium to deliver an all-day seminar on the Student Sex Work Project on June the 1st 2017. There were a series of presentations by Debbie, Tracey, Sam and Marije and an evening screening of Fog of Sex with a Q&A with Professor Chris Morris, Falmouth University and Debbie, Tracey and Sam.Tracey n DebbOn the 3rd of July Tracey and Debbie presented to health care professionals at the annual (sunny) Student Health Association conference at Loughborough University.And following on with the European theme, Debbie, Tracey, Sam and Jordan presented a special session on Student Sex Work on the 12th of July at the XXXVth International Congress on Law and Mental Health Prague.

Project news
We have just embarked on a small project with Public Health Wales which seeks to reanalyse the Student Sex Survey to look at student attitudes to sex work and we are also working with them on the development of a training package which looks to educate professionals about the harms associated with the stigmatising of sex work.  We are hoping that sex workers will want to get involved in this project with us so that the messages they want to get out to professionals can be embedded into training. So, if you would like to know more please email Debbie  Deborah.a.jones@swansea.ac.uk

Debb andThat’s all from us for now!

Debbie Jones, Tracey Sagar, Jordan Dawson, Marije Van Stempvoort and Sam Geuens PXL University College (I know he isn’t strictly one of the Welsh gang )


Please regularly check this blog for up-to-date news and items

Finally, to welcome new Board Members of the SWRH:

  • Dr Kate Lister
  • Dr Belinda Brooks Gordon
  • Professor Jane Scoular

    These fine academics join the existing team of Professor Nick Mai, Professor Tracy Sagar, Debbie Jones, Dr Mary Laing, Dr Nicky Smith; Co-chairs Dr Rosie Campbell, Professor Maggie O’Neill and Professor Teela Sanders; and Administrator Raven 
    (The Rook) Bowen.