Women involved in prostitution in Glasgow can now access vital support services online for the first time.
A new website has been launched today by Routes Out to make it easier for women involved in the sex industry to get help.
The new initiative was launched to coincide with the launch of improved services at The Routes Out Drop-in - Glasgow's support centre for women involved in prostitution.
Opening hours at The Drop-in have been extended to ensure a safe place is available when it is most likely to be needed. A review of opening times was prompted by a fall in the number of women using the centre, which was previously only open during the week and until 11.30pm at the latest.
Evidence from centre staff and outreach workers who offer support to vulnerable women involved in on-street prostitution showed that later opening hours were crucial.
As a result of the review by Community Safety Glasgow, which runs the service, The Drop-in, located in Robertson Street, will now open until 1am on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays as well as from 7.30pm to 11.30pm on Thursdays.
The Drop-in offers services such as a needle exchange for those with addiction problems, advice about homelessness, health and benefits, safety advice and harm reduction (such as condoms, attack alarms and torches) as well as emotional and practical support in a crisis. Anyone who wants help to leave the sex industry can also get support and advice from the trained professionals.
Nicola McPhee of Community Safety Glasgow said: "Those involved in prostitution are vulnerable and at high risk of harm. The Drop-in is a safe place where people can come for help.
"The staff are highly trained and able to offer women a range of support including practical assistance in a crisis - for example, if they have been attacked.
"Staff from the wider Routes Out service can offer women who need on-going support, specialist one-to-one assistance and help to access other services.
"The new extended opening hours will improve the service and make it more accessible to those in need. Prostitution has changed over the years and our services have to adapt. Widespread use of mobile phones and the internet mean women are less visible on the streets. The new website will make it easier for those who are not engaged with our support services to contact us.
"Routes Out provides practical and emotional support to all women involved in prostitution, regardless of whether they want to leave the sex industry or not."
The Drop-in is exclusively for women. Men involved in the sex industry can get help and support from the Steve Retson project at NHS Sandyford, 6 Sandyford Place, Glasgow.
The new Routes Out website is at www.routesout.org