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How the cost-of-living crisis is affecting sex workers in the UK


After a long working day at a London-based office job in the charity sector, there’s nothing Alex* would love more than to go out with friends or sit and binge on boxsets.


Instead, Alex opens their ‘sex work’ phone en route to the gym and quickly replies to messages from clients who they’ll be seeing that evening, lining up dates for later in the week, and screening people who are interested in their services.


‘I go for a quick weightlifting set at the gym, shower, do my make-up and hair in the locker room, make sure my nails are done and everything is on point, and then head to wherever I’m going to see sex work clients,’ Alex explains.


‘By doing this, it keeps me in central London, rather than going home and then back out. I usually get home really late, even though I always have an early start with the day job. I just have to try to get whatever sleep I can in between.’


When Alex first came to the UK from overseas to study at university ten years ago, they weren’t able to officially work on their student visa and decided to start supplementing their income with cash-in-hand sex work – which included both camera work and full-service. Something, they are still doing today.


Although Alex, 26, now has a work visa and a 9-5 job, they tell Metro.co.uk they aren’t able to stretch their wages to cover the everyday cost-of-living in London, especially in the middle of a financial crisis. Alex’s work visa prohibits a second job to plug the gap.


That’s why, once the day job is over, Alex spends evenings as a sex worker to make up the difference between income and outgoings. ‘Thankfully, all of my bills are paid for,’ they explain. ‘I’m not at risk of poverty right now, and it’s because of sex work. I’m happy I have an alternative stream of revenue and to have some options.’


With much of the UK in financial turmoil, there is a barely an industry that hasn’t been affected by the cost-of-living crisis – and that includes sex workers.


That’s why a new grassroots coalition of sex worker-led organisations, Hookers Against Hardship, is raising awareness and demanding change regarding their specific experiences.


Alex is part of the group and is one of hundreds of sex workers across the UK selling sexual services to stay afloat as inflation nears 11%, pushing the country into a prolonged recession and forcing people to do whatever work necessary to pay the bills.


‘The cost-of-living crisis is having a terrible effect on sex workers,’ explains Niki Adams, of the campaign group English Collective of Prostitutes, which recorded a 30% jump last year in the number of callers seeking support for starting sex work. ‘The people who are calling us are upset and scared. Women are frantically asking if we can provide food vouchers for food banks. One person hadn’t eaten properly for three days.


‘Others have rung in with housing problems, being threatened with evictions or having been bullied or harassed by landlords,’ adds Niki. ‘They are desperately trying to work out how they are going to get through the next week.’

With much of the UK in financial turmoil, there is a barely an industry that hasn’t been affected by the cost-of-living crisis – and that includes sex workers.


That’s why a new grassroots coalition of sex worker-led organisations, Hookers Against Hardship, is raising awareness and demanding change regarding their specific experiences.


Alex is part of the group and is one of hundreds of sex workers across the UK selling sexual services to stay afloat as inflation nears 11%, pushing the country into a prolonged recession and forcing people to do whatever work necessary to pay the bills.


‘The cost-of-living crisis is having a terrible effect on sex workers,’ explains Niki Adams, of the campaign group English Collective of Prostitutes, which recorded a 30% jump last year in the number of callers seeking support for starting sex work. ‘The people who are calling us are upset and scared. Women are frantically asking if we can provide food vouchers for food banks. One person hadn’t eaten properly for three days.


‘Others have rung in with housing problems, being threatened with evictions or having been bullied or harassed by landlords,’ adds Niki. ‘They are desperately trying to work out how they are going to get through the next week.’




Read more on metro.co.uk


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