A project to cut the number of sex workers in Preston has been handed a £300,000 boost.
The Foxton Centre, based in Avenham, has been given a grant by the Big Lottery Fund for their work with sex workers in Preston’s red light district.
In the last three years, the project’s work has helped 17 women get out of the sex trade.
Rev Tim Keightley, director of The Foxton Centre, said: “I would think we see about 35 to 40 different women in a year, which is a relatively small number compared to other cities, but it is significant for Preston.
“This project is a long-term piece of work.
“We have been working in this way since 1998 with other partners providing outreach and one-to-one support for people in extremely vulnerable situations.”
The programme will focus on women, and occasionally men, who have fallen into street sex work following disrupted family lives, childhood sex abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.
The project gives basic training, education and life skills, and things like housing and drug advice, and mental health support.
Rev Keightley said: “Confidence and self esteem is key. Certainly confidence is needed to break free from a long term alcohol or drug dependency.
“You have to believe there is an alternative way of life possible.
“Having somewhere suitable to live also makes a massive difference.
“Usually we see between five and 10 women move away for at least substantial periods every year. Unfortunately sometimes you see others take their place.”
The £298,000 grant will help pay for three members of staff and also help carry on arts, crafts and poetry workshops to build confidence skills.
The project also has a team of dedicated volunteers.
Helen Bullough, Big Lottery Fund head of the north west region said: “Whilst Christmas is a time of celebrations, it’s also a time to reflect on those in our own communities who may be struggling.
“I hope that the Lottery funding will begin to make a difference to many who would otherwise find it hard to get support when they most need it.”