back to the grind!

By amy ~ January 9th, 2014 @ 4:21 pm

offagainjanuaryAnd back also to an awful lot of variously odd, incomprehensible and deeply silly text messages, which baffled me completely until somebody told me that our schools didn’t start back until yesterday. Bless.

I write from my current London digs, after the most painfully early start in a few weeks – Belfast at 5.30am being the last – and a rail journey which is currently as familiar as the walk to the Post Office round the corner at home (and likely to remain so at least for another couple of months!) Fortunately, the only busyish leg was the ever-thrilling (will-it-won’t-it-break-down) stretch between Scarborough and York, and not being a social type I managed to fill my available space by undoing winter coat and scattering scarf, woolly hat and bottled water about in order to make myself appear as large and fearsome as possible, an old ploy gleaned from many a nature documentary (mostly ones about birds). It worked, too.

There is little availability left, and as such I have been taking provisional appointments for next month’s trip which precedes the Holiday (if I have to sit on a ten hour flight from Gatwick, I’m going to be needing some serious tiring out first) as well as keenly following the wonderful New York weather (I believe the term nowadays is facepalm). It’s not far off now and the observant will have noticed that the NYC page is back up in preparation – yay! I will be sure to pack my mittens.

Before all that, the Isle of Man beckons next week and despite reports of conditions that would make a kamikaze pilot think twice, everything is on track and I will be keeping company as usual midweek before the pre-birthday delights of Southend and Horror On Sea beckon at the weekend; there won’t be any appointments there, but trust me when I say that 24 hours or so into a horror film festival, most people really wouldn’t want one. Back at the ranch, and the next Scarborough appointments will be from January 23rd – February 3rd!

More important even than a trip to Southend to watch horror films in the middle of January, this week has seen a real blow for the National Ugly Mugs scheme (for those unaware of it, NUM allows sex workers to anonymously report offences against them and receive alerts in the form of emails or text messages when others in their area do so); they have been refused a much hoped for EU grant. Here is a message from NUM manager Alex Bryce:REDUMBRELLA“Unfortunately, we recently received some bad news which has left us in a very difficult funding position and it’s going to be a real struggle to continue the scheme. On current funds we will have to close the scheme before the end of April this year.

The scheme has been a huge success and has already:

Provided sex workers with information to avoid dangerous individuals. 16% of sex workers in our evaluation said they’d avoided specific individuals as a direct result of NUM.

Helped to lock up at least 11 serial offenders who target sex workers.

Changed attitudes in the police. We delivered police training to around 400 officers warning them about the consequences of enforcement and enforcing the fact that sex workers have the right to access their protection. 69% of the officers trained said they’d change their practices in some way as a result.

NUM has been a vocal national voice for sex worker rights, regularly appearing in the media locally and nationally, challenging stigma and warning about the dangers of enforcement as well as opposing any further criminalisation of sex work.

It is really important that NUM remains a free service for sex workers and as long as I’m in charge that will always be the case.  But, I know from the constant messages of thanks and support we get from sex workers that the scheme would be really missed if we had to close it so, though I hate to do this, I know that some NUM members might be able to contribute a small amount to keep the scheme going.

I have never been part of anything that I believe in and care about as much as NUM and I have never worked as hard in my life as I do now.  We have a small but devoted and thoroughly committed team and we put everything we have into running this scheme.

We also strive to keep our costs to a very minimum but even just sending SMS alerts to sex workers costs us around £1,000 per month.  We already have sex workers donating to us regularly but if all of our individual members that can afford donated just £10 per month (or any amount) then we would be able to continue the scheme for the long term and enhance the service we offer.

So, if you can afford to support NUM to keep the scheme going then please donate whatever you can to us.  You can make a monthly donation via our JustGiving page.  Please circulate this to friends, family and clients asking for their support and commitment to sex worker safety.

Many thanks for your support,
Best wishes,

Alex Bryce
Manager, National Ugly Mugs.”

A lot of people worked very hard to build NUM, and even more fought to have it launched at all – it’s success considering the mountain Alex, Kerri and the team have had to climb to get anywhere at all (I can only compare it to attempting to walk up a down escalator in rollerblades) should be testimony enough to it’s value, and the very real need it addresses. Anybody who can help, even if it’s just by reblogging the above, please do/give whatever you can …and thanks in advance.

More soon – check out a few new pictures while you’re waiting! I’ll do another handful if the sun ever comes out again for long enough.

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2 Responses to back to the grind!

  1. James

    Hello Amy.

    What is your perception of your clients? I suppose it varies depending on who they are. But as a customer myself it intrigues me because I’m aware that a lot of women (and men) look down on men who pay for sex and I have to admit that there are probably a lot of customers who don’t treat sex workers well. Leaving aside those unfortunate cases, do you think a man can be a gentleman, caring, help old ladies across the road and have pay as you go girlfriends? I travel a lot myself and am not really able to settle down and find a girlfriend just yet, so brief encounters it will be…

  2. amy

    Hello!

    Well the fact that you’re even asking tells me that you think sex work is different to other kinds of work, which means my answer cannot be very helpful because I don’t agree with your starting point. What do accountants think of their clients/teachers think of their pupils/doctors think of their patients?

    People are all different, including prostitutes and punters. Belonging to either group does not automatically imbue you with a checklist of characteristics positive or negative any more than eating meat, watching football or driving a car does, and the main difference between us and other service providers is that if we don’t like a particular punter (and this would include anybody who treated us badly, although this is extremely rare) then we don’t have to see them again.

    Thanks to us having this choice, I think of my clients pretty much 100% positively, as those I don’t feel this way about don’t stay my clients.

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