University receives Big Lottery Fund for student sex worker project

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Swansea University has been awarded £489,143 by the Big Lottery Fund Innovation Programme for a three year project to provide advice and support to student sex workers in Wales.

The ‘Interactive Health: Student Sex Workers’ project will be led by Dr Tracey Sagar and Debbie Jones from Swansea University’s Centre for Criminal Justice and Criminology.

The project, which will begin in June 2012, is in collaboration with Terrence Higgins Trust, the Integrated Sexual Health Clinic, Cardiff and Vale NHS, the National Union of Students Wales and Newport Film School.

Dr Sagar, who is the Principal Investigator and specialises in the regulation of sex work said, "We are absolutely delighted to receive this award from the Big Lottery Fund, which recognises that it is very difficult to develop and implement this kind of innovative work in the current economic climate.”

The project team hopes that the award will help them undertake multi-agency research which will reveal the motivations and needs of student sex workers for the first time.

They will also provide the first cross sector e-health sexual health service in Wales and will develop best practice guidance for Welsh Universities and local services.

Dr Sagar said, “The expertise on this project is vast and we will draw on this by working with student sex workers and our partner organisations who are experts in sexual health, peer mentoring, volunteering, student engagement, support and creative dissemination, to provide a peer mentoring service.

“Finally, we will launch a multi-media awareness raising campaign which will include a thirty minute social action drama on student sex work in Wales.

“This is an exciting and much needed project and we are very thankful to the Big Lottery Fund for recognising the importance of investing in evidence based project work which stands to make a real difference to the lives of student sex workers in Wales.”

Big Lottery Fund Wales Committee Member and Chair of the BIG Innovation Committee, Graham Benfield, said, “The Big Lottery Fund is committed to bringing about real improvements to communities most in need but recognises that existing ways of meeting need do not always work and that some needs are new with no ways of addressing them. This is why we launched BIG Innovation in Wales. As the projects funded today demonstrate, it can help turn people’s big new ideas into a reality.”

He added, “This is an exciting and much needed project and we recognise the importance of investing in evidence based project work which stands to make a real difference to the lives of student sex workers in Wales.”

Stephanie Lloyd, NUS Wales Women's Officer said, "We believe that this will be an innovative and exciting project. The research is vitally important to the section of our membership who for years have been let down by a lack of evidence, advice and support on the sex industry. The lessons we learn will help change the lives of these students, who need this support now more than ever."

Professor Chris Morris, head of Newport Film School, said "Newport Film School is absolutely delighted to have played a crucial part in this successful bid. The film will be collaborative project between the staff, students and film alumni from the University of Wales, Newport and the researchers in Swansea University – and we can't wait to get started.”

If you are a student sex worker and would like to find out more about the project, please contact Dr Sagar on

This news item has been generated by Delyth Purchase, Swansea University Press and Public Relations Office on 01792 295050 or email