Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000


MASH helps some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged women access healthcare and well-being services - MASH supports women within prostitution to become healthier, safer and make long-lasting changes. We refer to the women as ‘involved in sex work’ or as ‘sex workers’.

Last year MASH supported 1,127 women across Greater Manchester.

A majority of the women we support sell sex on the streets, or in ‘saunas’, and for many of them leaving sex work feels impossible.

The majority of street sex workers we support have very poor physical and mental health. Many use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the abuse they have suffered. The isolating and stigmatizing nature of sex work, combined with the chaotic nature of women’s lifestyles can make accessing mainstream services difficult. Difficult childhood experiences and isolation from supportive family and friends can mean women lack the skills and resources to manage their daily lives and have limited social networks.

We have also found that the recession has had a significant impact recently. We have seen women, under huge financial pressure, starting to sex work for the first time, and also women who had previously exited sex work making a return. Overall in the last year we have seen over 20% more women using our support services.

This group of women’s needs is not met by any other single organisation in Manchester due to the complex combination of drug and alcohol misuse, health issues, sex work, social needs and criminal justice issues.

MASH Services:

MASH breaks down the women’s barriers to accessing healthcare and support by providing a service that is flexible and non-judgmental. MASH is proactive & reaches the women through a Street Outreach Van and and the MASH Drop-In Centre.

At the Centre we bring local agencies together, combining their services with our own expertise, to offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ that provides access to a nurse, help with housing, addictions, debts, family life and volunteering, education & training opportunities.

MASH case workers work 1-on-1 with the women, and have various specialisms including sexual abuse, homelessness, domestic violence, substance misuse and criminal justice issues.

MASH’s professional staff team of 9 (many of whom are part-time) are supported by 65 well trained and dedicated volunteers who deliver many of the services alongside staff.

Our funding need:

We are seeking funding towards the costs of running the MASH Outreach van.

MASH services have developed and grown over the years and with Big Lottery funding we we opened the MASH Drop-In Centre in 2010. However MASH services started 23 years ago through an outreach van and outreach will always be at the heart of what we do.

Manchester has one of the largest ‘Street Scenes’ outside of London with us seeing 371 women through our Outreach Van on the streets across the last year (we are not suggesting there are this many women on the streets at any one time, we saw these women over the course of 12 months).

Teams of volunteers and staff take the MASH Van out out 3 times a week, late at night, offering the women help. This is crucial to reaching the most vulnerable women, either offering them on-the-spot help, or talking to them about the more in-depth support available at the MASH Drop-In Centre. Our research shows that, despite having very complex needs half the women we reach are not accessing any other type of support.

In Nov 2014 the MASH van broke down and was unrepairable. In order to ensure a reliable service MASH leased a van. The van costs £211 a month, which will be built into future budgets, however we have an immediate need to cover the cost over the next year. We are also seeking some support towards some of these costs. The Outreach Service has some support from a couple of Trusts and a local company however we still have some costs outstanding.

MASH (Manchester Action on Street Health)

Moment of Pride

The dedication of the Volunteers! We rely on a huge team of volunteers on a daily basis to deliver services alongside staff. Their work has just been recognised by Manchester City Council who awarded them the International Women’s Day award for 'Breaking Through' in Volunteering.

Location: Manchester