THREE projects expected to make a life-changing difference to Swindon’s most vulnerable people can now get off the ground, thanks to a special grant.
Thanks to grants from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s £1m Innovation Fund, Wiltshire Mind, Social Care In Action and The Nelson Trust are now in a position to start up new projects to support offenders and prostitutes.
The Nelson Trust, which works with agencies including Wiltshire Probation Trust, will be able to use its 34,382 grant to fund a full-time sex work outreach worker to try and support the town’s sex workers.
The outreach worker will be based at the new ISIS Women’s Centre will liaise between the Swindon Sex Worker Forum and women sex workers to try and protect the vulnerable women who are at risk of rape, sexual assault, violence, trafficking, robbery and a range of serious health problems associated with sex work and substance misuse.
Colin Levine, the business development co-ordinator at the Nelson Trust said: “We were delighted to receive the grant because it can mean we can employ a dedicated outreach worker.
“Sex workers are difficult to engage but are often vulnerable for a range of different reasons, and many of them also struggle with alcohol and drug abuse.
“Wiltshire Police do have a dedicated vice team as well, and the outreach worker will be working closely with them.”
Wiltshire MIND was also given £28,405 to work with other local agencies to set up a counselling project for ex-offenders.
CEO David Mckeigue said: “We will be working in conjunction with Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Targets For Change to provide a counselling service.
“Many offenders have underlying issues such as drug and alcohol abuse and when they are released form prison they come back into a cycle of re-offending.
“This will be about breaking that cycle by tackling those causes.”
Another £29,000 went the SCA for a new project to support ex-offenders as they leave custody.
The individually tailored support aims to work as an advocacy service, helping ex-offenders to get back on their feet.
Fiona Price, the director of business development at SCA, said: “Without this support there is a risk that offenders find themselves in a cycle of re-offending.”
The projects were three of 12 which received the grants in the third and final round of the Innovation Fund, which was set up by Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson to fund projects in Wiltshire and Swindon seeking to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour or support victims and vulnerable people.