The Umbrella Lane 2021 Hardship Fund was officially launched on 1.2.2021 and closed on 9.4.2021. During this time, Umbrella Lane raised over £10,000 to support Sex Workers who were financially impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown.
During this time period, Umbrella Lane was humbled to have been able to offer some support to our community - a group that is so often left behind by society. We were blown away by the support our individual allies and allied organisations stepped up to help us provide.
Thanks to the generous donations received Umbrella Lane was able to provide 100 individual crisis payments of £50 or £100 to Sex Workers who were struggling to survive in desperate financial hardship. These payments allowed Workers to feed themselves and their families, pay for basic necessities such as housing costs and energy bills, and, vitally, helped them deal with the feelings of isolation many of them were struggling with. We could let them know that, even in difficult times, they had a community that was there to support them.
Although the Hardship Fund has now closed, Umbrella Lane continues to offer support to Sex Workers in the form of food vouchers for Asda and Tesco, free Safer Sex Supplies and onward referrals to other services from food banks to Worker-trained counselling services. This is alongside our ongoing peer-led community group chats, Sex Worker information resources, online training and upskilling seminars and the online safe spaces we provide for peer support.
We are also excited to announce that we will soon be launching a fundraiser to raise money for a new physical community space!
Unfortunately, due to COVID19, we had to give up our previous community space to focus on supporting the needs of our community of Workers through lockdown, but with restrictions beginning to ease and the possibility of in-person events being allowed in the foreseeable future, Umbrella Lane is eager to establish a new physical space for our community.
Although we have been able to run community events and educational workshops online with great success throughout the pandemic, which has allowed us to reach more Workers all across Scotland, we are also very excited at the potential of a space to run in-person events and the enhanced sense of participation and community that they allow for. We also have hopes of being able to offer facilities for training, upskilling and other activities that are not possible to do online
The space will be located in Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, with easy access to travel links across the country. Our aim is to be located centrally within the city, allowing easy access via public transport. We also aim to have an accessible space, reflecting the diverse needs of community members and our mission to be an inclusive organisation.
More information on this fundraiser will be available shortly.
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Sex Workers in a negative way. As a marginalised and vulnerable group subject to significant levels of stigma, they were already facing discrimination and considerable barriers to accessing vital services. The crisis has worsened the situation and impacted the safety of Workers in addition to their ability to earn an income. Worst affected are the more vulnerable Workers who fall outside of the scope of the minimal support offered by the government, such as migrants and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Over the course of the crisis, Umbrella Lane has supported Workers directly through two hardship funds, coinciding with the period where the strictest lockdown measures were in place, and continues to offer food vouchers to Workers suffering from financial hardship. We have also built direct referral relationships with other organizations including Wellbeing Scotland and The Trussell Trust, in order to provide holistic and long term support to Workers In addition to all this we have continued to grow our community and facilitate participation through events, and group chats. Despite our organisational focus on the well-being of individual Workers, we felt it necessary to also run a campaign aimed at empowering the voices of Sex Workers to challenge the government consultation Equally Safe which raised fears among Workers of impending criminalisation of the industry despite the material risk to the safety and lives of Workers such models have been proven to cause.
Umbrella Lane has been working non-stop throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We are hopeful that measures have been successful enough that we will soon be able to return to more “normal” operations, but we also wanted to highlight the amazing work that has been done by other Sex Worker-led organisations during this crisis.
Please check out this video, released on International Women’s Day, documenting some of the work that has been carried out by organisations across the world in support of Sex Workers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0OFCNwRIUQ) over the past year.