Ruhama during the Coronavirus

24 March 2020

How we are working throughout the pandemic

We are living in unprecedented times in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world. As we all do our bit to flatten the curve and delay the spread of the virus to protect the most vulnerable in Irish society, things are changing in ways that we don’t always have control over.

Ruhama is still here for those who are affected in any way by prostitution and sex trafficking. While we have taken precautionary measures to protect our service-users, staff and volunteers, we are still operating the service in the following ways:

Referrals and the Out-Of-Hours emergency service

We are still taking referrals for anyone who may need our services. Whether you are a frontline agency working with women engaging in prostitution or who may be victims of trafficking, please get in touch to see how we can support.

If you yourself are in a difficult situation in the sex trade and could do with support, or you’re just looking for some advice, the same applies. We are here for you.

Email: servicemanager@ruhama.ie or admin@ruhama.ie

Phone: 01-8360292 (weekdays, 9am-5pm) Out-Of-Hours emergency support: 0863813783

Casework

Our caseworkers are continuing to link in with service-users remotely via phone, Skype and Zoom. We are conscious that many women’s situations are changing rapidly and drastically, and we are doing our best to respond to women’s needs in this time of crisis.

Women in prostitution are always more vulnerable to risk and harm, and are now facing additional challenges in asserting boundaries and accessing viable, alternative sources of income and safe accommodation. Many of our service-users are in Direct Provision centres across the country, sharing close quarters with many others and often isolated from services. Several others who have already exited the sex trade are in precarious employment that could potentially disappear. Women have still experienced violence or assaults and need help to report it to Gardaī. Others need advice regarding immigration concerns.

We are working with women to navigate all of these issues. If you are a current service-user and need support or advice, get in touch with your caseworker directly.

Material Supports

We are providing emergency packs and material supports for a number of our service-users who are in vulnerable and precarious situations.

Education & Development

Our Education & Development and Bridge to Work team are working with participants to continue to provide programme support remotely.

Those who can study from home and who have access to technology are engaging in classes and study support remotely via Skype & Zoom. We are providing women with resources encompassing education and wellbeing that they can work on in their own time. We are also continuing to provide women with support needed to seek and access employment, including through CV development and guidance counselling.

The team are in touch with participants on an ongoing basis. If you are a programme participant and have questions or specific needs in relation to accessing the programme at this time, get in touch directly with the team.

Counselling & Holistic Therapies

While all direct contact therapies have been postponed for now, we are continuing to provide counselling services remotely. A number of service-users have reported mental-health issues being triggered because of the ongoing crisis and uncertainty.

All women already accessing counselling have been offered the alternative remote service, and we are continuing to refer service-users into counselling should they opt for it.

Street Outreach & Volunteering

Our outreach van is not currently going out to link in with women in on-street prostitution.

However, if you are selling sex on the street, or know of someone who is, and you need support then please get in touch with us.

While we are being constantly reminded to socially-distance ourselves, it can be difficult to cope with the isolation that can cause. While we must remain physically distant, we can bridge the emotional isolation by staying in touch and checking in on one another. Our volunteers are reaching out to service-users as part of a befriending service we are also implementing at the moment.

Things are tough right now. And uncertainty lies ahead of all of us.

But what is certain is that Ruhama is still here for you – especially if you feel vulnerable, isolated and marginalised in these difficult times. Reach out to see how we can help.

 

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