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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about how Charis works

Do I have to tell you my real name if I want support from Charis?

If we meet you on outreach or you call our office for some brief information, advice or support you can use your working name (or any name you would like to use) and we will not need to take any personal details.

However, if you’d like more support, we would need to take down and record some personal details (eg your name, date of birth, contact details) and any other relevant information in order to support you. This information will be kept on our secure database that only the Charis team have access to.

When we get these details from you we give you an information sheet about how we store people’s personal data and ask you to sign a form to allow us to do so. Feel free to ask us any questions you have about this. You can also request to see our full data protection policy if that would be of interest for you to see.

If you ask us to refer you into another service or speak to an agency on your behalf (such as housing, health or other support services) we will do this only with your signed consent and share only the information that is relevant.

We will only share information without consent if someone is at risk of serious harm.

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Will you tell anyone that you’ve seen me? Or details about me?

We will not tell other people (outside of our Charis team) that we have seen you, the location of your work place, or share any information you tell us without your consent.

But, we have a legal duty to take action if:

  • We believe you or someone else is at risk of serious harm
  • We have serious concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a child (someone under 18)

This means if we think someone is at risk, we would talk to services who could help to safeguard you or the person who is at risk. We would always try to speak to you about this first if possible, before speaking to anyone.

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Can you help me if English isn’t my first language?

Yes, we work with many people who were not born in the UK and English is not their first language.

If you are still learning English and have difficulty understanding us or communicating what you want to say we do have a translation service that we can use.

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How does it work? What happens once I’ve contacted Charis to ask for support?

Asking for support from an organisation that you haven't worked with before is such a brave thing to do, and we recognise that for some people it can also be pretty daunting.

So, we thought it might help if we laid out the process of how it works…

This is what would usually happen if you (or a professional you are working with) contact Charis asking for support:

  • You, or a professional on your behalf, contact Charis to ask for support.
  • Either we will chat to you when you call, or if you send a message (via text or completing the form on our website) one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible (we work Monday - Thursday). If you contact us over the weekend there may be a bit of a longer wait for someone to contact you.
    If you message just let us know what the best way to contact you is and any particular times that suit you best.
  • We will then ask you a few brief questions about how we can best support you. If it's a professional who's contacted us on your behalf we will check with them that they have your permission to refer you and then ask them to fill in a referral form.
  • If after that initial contact you'd like to chat more with us we will arrange a time to call or to meet you face to face. If you'd rather meet face to face we will find a discreet, safe place to meet that is a neutral place for us all.
  • When we meet/talk on the phone we will initially just be starting to get to know each other and see if you'd like to work with us. We might at that point also discuss what kind of support we could offer you and how you'd like that to look and how often you’d like to be in contact with us.
  • We work discreetly to protect your privacy at all times; and our support is free.

For some people who contact Charis they just want to chat a couple of times and ask for some practical support and then don't contact us again.

Other people may want more on-going longer term support.

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If I’m a parent can I get in to trouble for working in the sex industry?

Many people who work in the sex industry are parents. We know that for many parents who are sex workers this can be a worry, and because of that many people worry about whether it is safe to talk to professional organisations or to report dangerous incidents at work to the police.

It is not illegal in England, Wales or Scotland for a consenting adult (age 18 or over) to sell sex, but law around the sex industry is complicated.

Many sex workers are great parents and there will not generally be cause for the local authority to intervene simply because you are a sex worker.

It is your responsibility to arrange for a responsible adult to look after your child/ children when you are working. As long as your child is not at risk of any harm then we, or other organisations you get help from, should have no reason to be concerned and would have no reason to share information about you or your children.

We want to be totally upfront with you though, so thought it might be helpful to say some of the things that we, or another organisation supporting you, may be concerned about and would make a child be seen as at “risk of harm”:

  • If a child is living in or staying in the same premises where clients are seen for sexual services, this could raise concerns about the child’s safety or wellbeing
  • If there are strangers regularly coming into the child’s home
  • If a child is experiencing violence or abuse or is witnessing or hearing violence or abuse
  • If a child is at risk of neglect due to being left unattended while you work
  • If a child is at risk of neglect or abuse due to carers being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • If a child is at risk of sexual exploitation, grooming or other forms of sexual abuse
  • If a child is being exposed to drug dealing or other illegal activity that could put them at risk

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Working from home

It is a criminal offence for a parent or carer to allow a child to live in or stay or visit anywhere that could be classed as a “brothel”. A brothel is classed as any premise (flat, house, building) where more than one person sells sexual services.

If you have anyone under the age of 18 living with you or regularly staying with you it is best to avoid seeing clients in your home. This is because it could expose your child to risks if there are strangers coming into the home.

Even if your child is never in the home when you work, it is worth thinking about possible risks of clients turning up uninvited, risks of stalking or harassment from clients or possible consequences if your child comes home unexpectedly or if there is a violent incident.

If it is at all possible, we will always aim to talk to you first about any concerns and support options before talking to other organisations.

What happens if a Children’s Services referral is made?

Children’s services are there to support families to keep their children happy, safe and healthy and in most cases this means staying in their own home.

The social worker will usually speak to the parent or carer to check that the child is not in danger. They will ensure that the parent or carer has the right help and resources in order to keep their child safe and healthy.

The social worker may decide that there is no need for any further action, or they may refer the parent or their child to other services for support.

The social worker will usually ensure that any services involved with the family work together with the parent and child to support them to address any problems they are experiencing and to enable the parent to make positive changes.