Who do you work with?:
Umbrella Lane works with sex workers, of all genders, who generate their own income from sexual labour.
How are sex workers involved in your organisation?:
The Governance Board of Trustees of SISU (registered Charity name) is made up of 50% lived experience and 50% allies. The Board of Trustees are responsible for the legal status of the Charity and ensuring good governance. For all operational decisions the Board defer to the Advisory Group of Umbrella Lane, which is 100%current and former sex workers. The Advisory Group is made up of sex workers with various experiences within and out with the industry. The Advisory Group recognises the importance of diversity and therefore actively seeks participation from BME sex workers, LGBTQI+ sex workers, migrant sex workers and sex workers with disabilities.
Which of NSWP priority areas does your organisation work on?:
Oppose the criminalisation and other legal oppression of sex work and support its recognition as work
Critique the trafficking paradigm that conflates representations of sex work, migration, and mobility
Advocate for universal access to health services, including primary health care, HIV and sexual and reproductive health services
Speak out about violence against sex workers, including violence from police, institutions, clients, and intimate partners, while challenging the myth that sex work is inherently gender-based violence
Oppose human rights abuses, including coercive programming, mandatory testing, raids and forced rehabilitation
Challenge stigma and discrimination against sex workers, their families and partners, and others involved in sex work
Advocate for the economic empowerment and social inclusion of sex workers as sex workers
What are the two main challenges that the sex workers you work with face:
The Scottish Government Policy that equates prostitution, stripping and lap dancing, as commercial sexual exploitation. This definition feeds into all services that therefore adopt a non-rights based approach in delivering services to sex workers, who are treated as victims without agency nor autonomy. This also prevents organisations that are peer led, like Umbrella Lane, applying for Scottish Government funding for the work we do given our refusal to accept that all prostitution is violence against women. The laws in Scotland criminalise street based sex workers for solicitation and brothel-keeping legislation prevents sex workers for working together for safety. Third party laws also make sex workers vulnerable to exploitative management conditions with little employment or labour rights. Migrant sex workers are frequently targeted for raid and rescue operations, which result in arbitrary detention and deportation.
Describe other areas of your work:
Since its inception in 2015, Umbrella Lane has been working to empower the Sex Worker Community throughout Scotland and develop lived experience led projects that enable greater health, happiness and well-being of Sex Workers throughout Scotland. Umbrella Lane aims to achieve its vision through activities focused on: Community, Connection and Conversation. We build and empower the Sex Worker community through intentionally designing safe community spaces that enable peer-to-peer and specialist support in person and online. Services are designed in regular consultation with the community so they are tailored to Sex Workers needs and ensure holistic wellbeing using a trauma-informed and rights-respecting approach. To foster participation and inclusion of Sex Workers in the Umbrella Lane community, we run regular workshops designed to increase confidence and self-esteem in abilities, whilst offering upskilling opportunities and fun, creative events. Umbrella Lane believes that partnership working and creating connection locally and nationally is vital to ensure Sex Workers can enjoy unabated access to a range of services and support. Through the lived experience led training of partner services, we develop safe and supportive referral pathways with aligned organisations and collaborate with partners to fill service gaps to ensure holistic support is available to all Sex Workers. Through inciting positive conversations, in the media, academia, the general public and policy making and service planning spaces, Umbrella Lane works to humanise the people in our community. By amplifying Sex Workers voices and showing the diversity of their experiences within and outwith the sex industry, Umbrella Lane aims to foster a systemic cultural change in thinking, to ultimately remove stigma to enable greater happiness and well-being of Sex Workers.