Shining a light to help bring an end to violence to sex workers

To mark ‘International Day to End Violence to Sex Workers’ on 17th December, Jewels Arts is partnering with All Saints Liverpool and the Everyman Playhouse to create a community light event.

Beginning at 5 pm with a festive ‘Glow in the Dark Nativity’ performance from Jewels Arts, the event will be followed by a spectacular creation of a huge light installation with poetry, music and refreshments.

The performance is to help highlight the on-going issues the Sheil Road neighbourhood has experienced as a result of being a focus for street-based sex work. This has been particularly problematic for residents around their homes and schools.

Many of the women involved in street-based sex work in Liverpool are homeless with addiction to drugs and alcohol, usually caused as a result of trauma which then continues with their work.

Over the last 18 months Jewels Arts, the Bishop of Warrington, Beverley Mason; councillors, police, street workers, residents, and other services have come together, agreeing that the women should not be working in a residential area close to people’s home and schools.  This event aims to raise awareness of that need for joined-up services to support the women including the provision of a safe managed zone.

A large installation in the shape of a heart will also be placed outside All Saints Church close to the Sheil Road area.  Members of the public will be invited to place small lights onto the installation to create a huge heart representing the community, politicians, councillors and street workers. When lit, the heart installation will signify love and support for both this vulnerable group of women and the neighbourhood in Kensington.

Jennie Hardy, one of the co-founders of Jewels Arts told us that the women are often subjected to high levels of violence, experiencing mental and physical injury as a result. She says the women find it difficult to access services due to their chaotic lifestyles which can also feed other types of organised crime.

Bishop Bev, said: "I am so inspired and applaud the work of Jewels Arts who by their vision, tenacity and dedication to human dignity, create a safe space, a new narrative and real hope for Liverpool street workers.

I am very grateful to Jewels Arts, residents, Merseyside Police, councillors, social services and the street workers themselves for their vision to make this happen and I ask all to support this so that together, we can give women caught up in sex work, the best chance of a better life." 

Archdeacon of Liverpool, Rev Mike McGurk said, “We have a duty of care to all of our citizens in the community, protecting all people should be the heart cry for all people and for those who are involved in street work as much as anyone.  A managed area would provide such a space.”

Jennie explained that they want to create a beautiful act of unity to bring the community together. This will demonstrate to the city that Sheil Road can no longer be a focus for street-based sex work or any residential area and that a managed area is needed to protect the women and the neighbourhood. She urges as many people as possible to come along and support the event, as the more who come along and light up the installation the stronger the message will be.