Today I've been to a sex work conference (Sex Work Research Wales) where the results of a four year study looking at sex work in Wales were reported.
It was very much addressed to the professional agencies working with the vulnerable but while there was a smattering of buzz words the keynote speakers spoke clearly and passionately and I have come away even more determined to find a way to reach the girls particularly in massage parlours. There's one at the end of Zac's road so it seems a natural progression to offer the girls there the same respect and equality that the homeless and addicts have come to enjoy at Zac's.
The speakers highlighted the many needs of the sex workers - help with housing, benefits, form-filling, literacy issues - and in my head I was saying, 'Yes, yes, we could do that ... and that ... and that ...' but that is what the agencies who have the training, experience and knowledge are there for. What we can do is offer friendship with no conditions, a dependable trustworthy listening ear, someone who won't judge, won't necessarily even offer advice but can signpost options and opportunities, someone who will value the girls not as a commodity but as human beings, and will see them for who they are and not what they happen to do.
I was at the conference with Mandy Harvey who is administrator of the Swansea churches together group and she reminded me of the story of the hundreds of starfish washed up on the beach and the old man who throws them back in the sea one at a time. When asked why he bothers when it's such an enormous task and he's not going to be able to make a difference he replied, 'I can make a difference to one of them.'
This dream or desire has been on my heart for a couple of years and now I really want to take it forward. So watch this space.