A Radford charity has received a £46,000 grant to research online sex advertising.
Prostitute Outreach Workers (POW), a charity helping people involved in or affected by sex work, has been given £46,440 by the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales.
The grant will be paid over two years.
Daniela Scotece, chief executive of the charity, said the internet is the “fastest-growing medium for the sale of sex” and there are “a number of social applications where people are advertising”.
POW is working with the University of Leicester’s ‘Beyond the Gaze’ project: a UK-wide study of the working practices, safety and regulation of internet-based sex work.
Ms Soctece said: “We’re looking to see the extent of advertising on the internet.
“We’re going to be looking at safety and regulation.
“The money’s going to be used for a number of things: one is to establish our reach and one is for our general service delivery. It’s to work with women who are involved in sex work.”
The charity supports on-street sex workers, migrant workers and off-street workers – often women who work from their own flats.
“There’s varying degrees of off-street workers,” Daniela said, “You’ve got chaotic off-street workers – people that may be involved in drugs, may have been street sex workers but now no longer go on the beat – they operate via their phone.
“When I talk about our reach, I’m talking about using mobile technologies which might be reaching and contacting people over the phone: sending text messages, using social media and WhatsApp to contact people involved in the sex industry.”
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Paul Streets OBE, chief executive of the foundation, said: “Cuts to public funding and changes to commissioning mean specialist local charities are struggling to stay afloat despite increasing demand for their services.
“Funding from grant makers, such as Lloyds Bank Foundation, can be a lifeline for many such small charities.”
POW provides healthcare and has a van which provides people with condoms, rape alarms and needle exchange packages.
The charity offers sexual health screening and holds a drop-in session, based at its centre on Independent Road, Radford, each Thursday for on-street workers to receive support.