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Homelessness project for sex workers scoops award

A pioneering service which helps young women get out of prostitution has won £30,000 at a prestigious awards ceremony.

The Spires’ Streetlink project, which works with street-based sex workers and other vulnerable young women through outreach and centre-based sessions, was named winner of this year’s Andy Ludlow Homelessness Awards at the ceremony at Speaker’s House in the House of Commons today (Thursday 17 October). The annual awards, organised by London Councils, highlight innovative practice in the homelessness sector in London.

A Lambeth-based service, Spires Streetlink, provides support for women with a range of complex practical and emotional needs which can include homelessness, addiction, childhood abuse, violence, and sexual and mental health issues.

Six groups from across the capital were shortlisted for the awards, which are sponsored by the London Housing Foundation and Shelter.

London Councils’ Executive member for housing, Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, said: “This year’s winner, Spires’ Streetlink, is a fantastic example of a project which works with some of the hardest to reach young women in our local community and helps them to get off the streets and into a safe, positive environment.

“The work carried out by all six organisations represented at these awards and others in the sector, deserves wider recognition.

“These projects prove that with the right kind of support, no matter what they have been through, people can get back on their feet.”

Award judge and chair of London Housing Foundation, Don Wood, said: “This is the 15th year of the Andy Ludlow Homelessness Awards and each year the calibre of the entries is incredibly high.

“Spires’ Streetlink particularly impressed us for the dedication of its staff and volunteers. It is not only a homelessness project. Ninety-five per cent of the women who use the service are drug users, and many of them have been in care.

“The project provides service users with a pleasant, welcoming place to go and gives them the support to begin to take control of their lives. Congratulations to the team for winning this award and to all the shortlisted entries.”

Look Ahead Care and Support’s staff training programme Learning from the Experts picked up the second prize of £15,000. The Kensington-based organisation uses customer experiences of life on the streets to help staff emphasise with and relate to clients.

Third prize winner is the East London Housing Partnership’s Single Homelessness Project, which covers the City of London, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. It was awarded £10,000. It provides funding and tenancy support to people in need of secure accommodation.

Pan-London services St Mungo’s Recovery College and Hestia Housing and Support’s Back on Track programme were commended, as was Broadway Homelessness and Support’s Westminster-based Housing First service.

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