Laura Jones, a PhD Student at the University of Dundee, a lecturer and independent researcher tells us about the high levels of emotional burden she found among the 27 workers she spoke to in services across Scotland supporting women who sell sex.
"Lone working, feeling isolated, and sitting apart from organisations were some of the main concerns, and reflected the high levels of burnout and high staff turnover in the sector. One worker reflected:
‘If I’m not checking in on her nobody is’ - this feeling of being women's sole support can lead to a sense of personal responsibility, and a reluctance to adhere to a work-life balance. This is particularly relevant in the light of the strong personal motivation that nearly all of the sector workers I spoke to felt.
For many, supervision or the opportunity to discuss some of the traumatic events disclosed to them was the first element of their work to be dropped. Workers felt they do not have the hours in the day to support the women – and would not feel comfortable taking time for supervision when they felt there were crises they should be attending to. In this sector the level of need and risk workers are attending to means there is always someone having a worse day – and some workers ignored their own need for self-care and burnout prevention as a result. For others, they are simply the only person in their organisation doing this kind of work – and they don’t feel that their other team members would understand, or they worry about traumatising them by sharing what has been disclosed.
Overall, the emotional burden for workers in this sector is high – and conversations must be ongoing about creating a collaborative, supportive and safe environment to facilitate workers doing this highly valuable work."
Tell us – How do you cope with the emotional burden of supporting service users with complex needs?
Is there anything that works for you or that you need? In our next bulletin, we want to share what workers are finding helpful - or not - when it comes to their own wellbeing. You can send us your thoughts using this form (we will only share responses with your permission and you can remain anonymous).