She says she feels safer when she sees the van. There’s no one else out there for her. She says:
‘Can I just sit here?’
Maybe a hug or hot chocolate. Maybe she’s on and off quite quickly: condoms, clean needles, thanks and bye… somewhere to go for someone else. Judgement, pain, abuse, addiction. The streets are a last resort.
‘I can’t believe I’m doing this.’
But we’re out there cause we want to be. This might be the start of a journey.
‘I can’t believe you’ve done this for me.’
"Without the outreach bus, I would not have gone to the drop-in to get prescriptions and I wouldn’t have seen what One25 could do for me or believe I was capable of change. The outreach bus is necessary to reach those so far out of society they would otherwise be unreachable."- Gabby
The nearly 150 women street sex-working in Bristol are in crisis, using dangerous drugs to cope with trauma, sex working to fund their addiction and further traumatised by violence.
The night outreach van can be the vital first step towards a safer and healthier life. Volunteers offer safety, love and practical support. For women who’ve experienced a lifetime of abuse, it can be the starting point for brave steps away from the street. Outreach teams meet women’s basic needs by providing nutritious food, First Aid, warm clothing, condoms, safety alarms and harm reduction kits for drug use. The service offers the chance to talk and get advice in a safe space. It encourages women to get more in-depth support by visiting our drop-in or seeing a specialist caseworker.
The life-controlling cycle of selling sex to buy and take drugs (for themselves and often for a coercive partner) stops women taking care of their basic needs. They are acutely malnourished and many are so ill that they should be hospitalised. Outreach teams also give emergency help in a crisis, for example when a woman has been attacked. In these cases highly-trained volunteers can support a woman to give details of the attack which can then be used to warn other women (Ugly Mugs). Read Jo’s first hand account of taking an Ugly Mug report on the van.
Van outreach operates five nights a week: 9pm til midnight from Monday to Thursday and 9pm to 1.30am on Fridays. Our Freephone number is 08006 125125.