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Council funds street outreach worker

Wednesday, October 31, 2018   Posted in: Resources and Information By: Administrator With tags: sexual health, environment, support, community engagement

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 30th October 2018

Council funding will allow an outreach worker to work full-time liaising between residents, businesses and sex workers on Manchester Street.

Christchurch City Council agreed last month to contribute a grant of $40,200 from the Capital Endowment Fund to the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) towards wages and a phone for a Street Outreach Co-ordinator.

The Street Outreach Co-ordinator will liaise between residents, businesses and sex workers on Manchester St.The position will provide outreach services for street-based sex workers, residents and businesses for 12 months, including encouraging sex workers to relocate from residential areas.

The Co-ordinator will work up to seven nights a week and residents can contact her with any concerns.

The person currently in the role has been working voluntarily for 30 hours a week plus 10 hours of paid work funded by the Ministry of Health. The new Council funding will mean she is now paid for a total of 40 hours per week.

Funding a Street Outreach Co-ordinator is one of several steps the Council has taken since it began working with the community and agencies - including NZPC and the Police - to address concerns about sex workers on Manchester Street.

A CCTV camera was installed on the corner of Manchester Street and Aberdeen Street at the end of July to promote the safety of sex workers, residents and business owners in the area.

The Council’s General Manager of Citizens and Community Mary Richardson, says the measures already introduced and the new funding will make a difference.

“There isn’t a quick and easy solution to this long-standing issue. But the approach we’ve taken, working alongside other community agencies and the police, and listening to residents’ concerns, has proved very effective.

“Recent monitoring shows there are no sex workers north of Bealey Avenue and the number of street-based sex workers in the wider Manchester Street area has also dropped. A decade ago there were more than 70 sex workers in Manchester Street area and this has fallen to between seven and 13 during January to May this year, and between two and nine over the winter months.

“Sex work is legal and the Council has limited powers to regulate it, but of course we want to address residents’ concerns and we have given a clear message to sex workers and their clients that they should relocate to a more appropriate location. The outreach co-ordinator will be giving that same message on the street.”

The Street-Based Sex Work Collaborative Community Working Group - which includes the Council, NZPC, residents and other key organisations - is planning an event in December to mark Red Umbrella Day, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

The Council is also continuing to hold quarterly community drop-ins and providing newsletters for Manchester St residents and businesses.