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Volunteer blog - week 3 - The heart of Restore

14th April 2021

I am currently in the middle of reading ‘The moment of lift’ by Melinda Gates. The book was a recommendation from a speaker at a women’s conference I attended a few months ago. Melinda is an advocate for change and someone who I find inspirational when it comes to campaigning for women’s rights.

There are two quotes used in her book which really stand out for me. They sum up, far more eloquently than I could the reason why I volunteer for Restore.

"Love is the most powerful and underused force for change in the world. ... For me, love is the effort to help others flourish — and it often begins with lifting up a person's self image.”

“If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction.”

For the past 9 years I have volunteered for charities which aim to offer support to women working in the sex industry. My heart aches for women who do not have a support network. Women who are not allowed to flourish and reach their potential. Women who because of circumstance, find themselves stuck in the most awful of situations with little hope for their future. Sadly many women throughout the world are in this position, some are working in the sex industry in Derby.

It is estimated that over 50% of women working in prostitution began working before they were 18 years old. Children, making choices which will have desperate consequences for the rest of their lives. More than not, the only defining factor between myself and the women I have met is that I was fortunate to have a supportive and stable upbringing. I was protected, nurtured and loved. I was given a good start in life. I was no more deserving of this. I didn’t earn it. There are many factors which lead girls/women to enter prostitution. It’s important to say that some do through their own choice, but for many it's an outcome of past trauma, abuse, poverty, trafficking or ongoing substance abuse. Some may not want to change vocation, many do but can’t. They are trapped. As a society how can we eradicate the systems which cause women to get stuck? How can we create more opportunities where women can be supported and equipped to exit prostitution?

Restore is brilliant at ‘loving’ the women working in the sex industry in Derby with non-judgemental, practical help and friendship. We have been a part of wonderful conversations with a real mixture of characters. We have held pamper parties & a baby shower and have celebrated in the good times. In the bad times there have been many tears. We have watched drug abuse ravage the heart, soul and bodies of many of the women we have met and have heard utterly heartbreaking stories of the violence and abuse they have suffered. We have watched women enter, exit and re-enter prison, almost get clean from drugs but then relapse and some women who vanish and we never see again. As a volunteer some weeks can feel devastating and deeply frustrating as ‘progress’ feels slow but as a team we persist and dig deeper. The Restore team spirit is beyond amazing. There is something so powerful when a group of women work together to support other women. 

As I write this I am sitting at home looking after my 3 children because of social distancing measures due to Cov-19. The impact on us as a family is minimal as I was a stay at home mum before Coronavirus but for many this season is deeply challenging. Many women known through Restore are still working, risking their health for their vocation because they have no other choice. Those who can’t work because of a decrease in demand are left without income which is especially dangerous if they work for a pimp. They have now become worthless to them. Others have turned to the hidden world of on-line work or ‘camming’. The online sex world is booming and is something we need to be aware of especially in the current climate. One porn site has reported an increase of 30% in uploaded videos with user engagement increasing by up to 57% in some countries since lockdown. There are great charities out there who help educate on the dangers and impact of porn like ‘The Naked Truth Project’. It is well worth checking them out. 

To finish here is a quote by Sarah Champion MP and Chair of the APPG prostitution and global sex trade who recently wrote to the Home Secretary urging the government to increase support to prostitutes in the UK through this global crisis. “I’ve become increasingly concerned about the plight of the most vulnerable in our society due to Covid19, prostituted people are just such a group, but one we find easy to overlook. Unless the Government is pro-active in supporting prostitutes, they will be failing in their duty to safeguard some of the most marginalised in our society. 

In this season I feel particularly called to Pray. Please join me and remember these women in your prayers and for more information or to find out how to support or volunteer for Restore get in touch with Josie.


‘Tacking street prostitution: Towards as holistic approach’ A Home Office Report 2004

‘Coronavirus Traffic Update’ Porn hub 2020