A local newspaper website in England, www.thisishullandeastriding.co.uk has reported that women are turning to prostitution to feed their children as welfare reforms hit the poorest and most vulnerable families in Hull, England.
Staff at the Lighthouse Project, a charity supporting street workers in Hull, have seen an increase in women turning to prostitution as unemployment rates soar and benefit cuts take hold. Anne Dannerolle, chair of trustees at the charity, revealed they are now giving out food parcels to the women selling their bodies for sex.
She said: “We have started to see women who are literally starving and they are out there to feed themselves.
“Often, that is because of benefit cuts or sanctions, when their benefit cuts are taken away from them for a couple of weeks. I have a real concern about that.
“If they have no one to turn to in an emergency, they have to find a way to get money – and that often means crime or going out on the streets.
“I suppose it is seen as a crime that hurts nobody – it just hurts themselves.”
Humberside Police is about to launch a new campaign to help the women after recognising the problem, Police Constable Lorraine Summerfield, who covers the Hessle Road area, said: “Some of these girls are desperate to feed and clothe their children and they are going out to do that, which is really sad.
“The number of girls working had reduced but, recently, it has flared up again and it is because new girls are going out, who have never done it before.
“There have been a lot more who have come to it recently later in life because they are so desperate for cash. They don’t want to commit crime so they are selling themselves because it is an easy way to make money and feed their family.”
The rise has led to an increase in complaints from residents, who say they regularly see people having sex in public places and come across litter, including used condoms.
Complaints have been made about Hessle Road, the Boulevard, English Street, Witty Street and Constable Street.
Street workers have also been seen in Porter Street, Midland Street and Pease Street. PC Summerfield said: “We have had more complaints from residents, which is why we are launching another project.
“It is a residential area and we want to make it clear we are not going to accept it. It is also about helping the girls, finding out what their issues are and seeing what we can do.”
The Lighthouse Project has also been giving more food parcels to women who have been found working on the streets.
Mrs Dannerolle said she recently saw a woman working on the streets for the first time to raise money for food.
“After that, she carried on coming out and got involved in drugs through being on the streets,” she said.
“Many of the women hate what they are doing so much that they take drugs or consume a high level of alcohol to numb it.”
On the same night, she spoke to a woman who had not worked as a prostitute for years but had returned to the streets to buy food.
Some of the online commentators who commented on the story were, however, unsympathetic. They opined that if some of these young mothers who have turned to prostitution could give up their mobile phone contracts and cable television subscriptions they would have enough money to feed their children. Some others went on to say part of the benefit money is sometimes spent on cigarettes, alcohol, gambling and even drugs.