A new drop-in centre for prostitutes is expected to get planning approval today, despite objections from locals who say it is too near their homes and could lead to increased problems
As reported previously in the YEP, the Joanna charity, which runs a ‘support service’ for working girls, has already been awarded a six-year lease for new premises in Sydenham Street, Holbeck.
Today, a Leeds council planning committee will be asked to rubber-stamp the full application to change the use of the building, a derelict former caretaker’s house on an industrial estate, into a training and counselling base.
A report to the panel says: “The development would bring a vacant property back into use and provide an accessible counselling and educational facility for vulnerable women, the aim being to help them exit the sex industry.“
The centre would be open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with a drop-in service from 11am to 3pm every day.
The report says 13 letters of objection were received from locals, who feared an increase in anti-social behaviour.
However there was also support, including from the local police superintendent, vicar, healthcare trust and GP.
One supporter said: “The Joanna project does important work supporting sex workers with the aim of exiting prostitution, find[ing] hope and rebuilding their lives.”
The charity wanted to move its base from the city centre to Holbeck, which has previously been dubbed the city’s “red light district”, the idea being to offer outreach support to girls already working the area.
Jackie Hird, project-co ordinator for Joanna, previously told the YEP: “We want a building that is accessible for people who are already there.”
“When we do our outreach work, we meet women who don’t have an address or a phone.
“Our whole aim is to help them EXIT prostitution. We want to solve the problem, not exacerbate it.”