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A message from Annie at MASH – Keeping women safe during the Pandemic

Although the word has been used a lot recently, ‘unprecedented’ feels like a fitting way to describe everything that has been happening over the past few weeks.

With regards to our vital work at MASH, we have always been committed to keeping women who are sex working safe, and this has been our absolute priority as we all pull together to respond to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

I wanted to let you know how we have been responding to this challenge, but I first want to start off by thanking our incredible staff team at MASH. They have shown their usual commitment, dedication and selflessness from the outset. I am extremely proud of the way in which our team has adapted, changed their own busy lives and pulled together to ensure we can still provide a consistent service to some of the most vulnerable women in Manchester who are most at risk of being harshly affected by the ripple effects of this virus.

Secondly, I’d like to thank all of you who have been in touch, made donations, sent messages of support and enquired about how you can help. Your kindness and care at this time has been truly invaluable.

Over the last few weeks our small team has been working flat out to adapt our service in line with the rapidly changing government and Public Health England guidance.

As the impact of Covid-19 results in more and more services having to close, our women need us more than ever to access basic essentials such as food, accommodation, condoms and safe injecting equipment.

There has been a great sense of collaboration across Manchester. We are working closely with key partners to provide accommodation so women can isolate safely, drug treatments so women can manage their addictions, health and wellbeing services and support for victims of crime.

The safety of our service users, staff and volunteers is our absolute priority so we’ve had to make considerable changes to our usual way of working. We’re really proud to be one of the few services locally still offering support to women at a time when they need us most. This is particularly important given that many of our service users have underlying health issues which make them a higher risk for Covid-19 complications.

We are still supporting women at our drop-in centre via a ‘through the door’ service and we have extended our mobile drop-in van outreach to five nights per week. Our incredible team of case workers and our nurse are also offering support over the phone and women can now access our counselling remotely.

Women have told us;

 

             “I can’t believe you’re still coming out, everywhere else I normally go is closed.”

              “Thank you so much for coming out. I’m so glad. I wouldn’t come out here if I didn’t have to.”

If this challenging situation has taught me anything, it has only reinforced what an incredibly compassionate, dedicated and collaborative community we have here at MASH and with our many partners across the city. Since our inception we have sought to help women stay safe, healthy and feel more in control of their lives. This absolutely remains our mission.

Thank you for your continued support and we hope you are keeping safe, healthy and staying at home where you can to keep everyone in Manchester safe and well.

Annie Emery, CEO, MASH

 

 

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