Sex workers sign up for rehab

FOUR sex workers from Ipswich are today undergoing intensive rehabilitation treatment in the hope of being able to break free from drugs and prostitution.

FOUR sex workers from Ipswich are today undergoing intensive rehabilitation treatment in the hope of being able to break free from drugs and prostitution.

Two of the women have been placed in drug treatment centres outside Suffolk in the past fortnight - the first working girls to receive help since the launch of Ipswich's new five-year street prostitution strategy.

The remaining two signed up for rehab earlier in the year.

Drug workers are hopeful of helping a string of sex workers into similar rehab programmes in the next few months in their attempts to end Ipswich's street prostitution problem.


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Today they said addressing the women's drug addictions was crucial to helping them give up working on the street.

Simon Aalders, co-ordinator of the Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team, said: “It is about breaking the cycle.

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“We are placing the ones that have come forward who have got the opportunity to go out of county.”

On average those placed in rehab are housed in specialist centres for three months at a time. It is hoped that when they come out drug-free they are able to leave their old habits behind.

The agencies behind the new prostitution strategy, which was launched last month, believe there is a core group of between 30 and 40 working girls who work the streets of Ipswich's red-light district. Almost all are working to feed drug habits.

Mr Aalders said while the numbers of women in rehab appeared small, progress was being made.

He said: “If you do four in a quarter, that's 16 in a year and that's a significant number of people if you look at the potential impact that has on changing their lives and the lives of their families.”

But some parts of the prostitution strategy are yet to be implemented, as staff are still being recruited and funds being put in place.

Brian Tobin, the co-founder of the Iceni Project, a drug rehabilitation charity in Fore Street, Ipswich, said it would only be possible to help women out of prostitution when all agencies, including police, health, social services and drugs workers, were holding “case conferences” for each woman involved so that all of their needs, such as accommodation as well as drugs, could be addressed.

He said: “We're in no position as yet to deal with getting routes out of prostitution. That will only come with the case conferencing.”

Have you overcome a drug addiction? What do you think should be done to help sex workers turn their lives around? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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