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Top award for charity which takes therapy to the streets

During lockdown Street Talk have been helping isolated escapees of human trafficking

18 September, 2020 — By by Sam Ferguson

THE head of an award-winning charity that supports street sex workers and women who are victims of human trafficking has described the challenges of maintaining an effective outreach service during the coronavirus lockdown.

Street Talk, based in Holloway Road, was founded by psychotherapist Pippa Hockton 15 years ago.

“We take psychotherapy and art therapy to women who would normally be overlooked and wouldn’t be able to access NHS or other forms of psychotherapy because of their lifestyle,” Ms Hockton told the Tribune.

“Our focus is groups of women in street prostitution. These are the kind of women who are often homeless and are in and out of hostels.

“Our other focus is women who have escaped from traffickers.”

The charity is an outreach organisation that aims to reach vulnerable women in day centres and homeless hostels to provide therapy and support.

“Mostly there’s a mental health reason that has made a woman become involved in street prostitution, and it’s usually a reason that doesn’t get picked up,” Ms Hockton explained.

“The kind of women you see under the bridge in Finsbury Park or in other places in the borough, usually it’s mental health, and more often than not they have come from an abusive family or through the state care system with a lot of abuse in childhood.

“Usually they start to self-medicate to deal with the trauma. But the problem is they get dependant on the lifestyle and street prostitution is the way they support their habit.”

For its work on helping those suffering from addiction, Street Talk this week won the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) Maxie Richards Award, named after a former headmistress who established a drug rehabilitation centre at her home in Glasgow.

But during lockdown Ms Hockton said the task faced by the charity was “very difficult”, as they struggled to support victims of trafficking and women with no recourse to public funds.

“All our trafficked women appeal for asylum, and they get just £5.35 a day to live on, in the form of a voucher,” she said.

“They get accommodation but have to use that daily amount to feed and clothe themselves, pay for internet, toiletries and public transport, and basically everything else.

“Normally these people are very dependent on day centres for hot meals and toiletries, but of course these centres have all been shut during lockdown.”

During the lockdown the charity worked to offer a telephone service to isolated women.

Ms Hockton added: “We just want to enable women to uncover their own humanity. They’ve been so damaged they feel like they deserve it in the end.”

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