A volunteer organization is renewing its work supporting sex trade workers on the streets of Moncton, providing them with basic needs and a non-judgmental ear to listen to their concerns.
Street Angels was started by Amanda Newman a few years ago. The group recently started up again now that the weather is warming up.
Though Street Angels tries to offer support to those trying to get out of prostitution, Newman said it's not necessarily the goal of the organization.
"We do not go out in a sense that, 'we want to just get you off the street.' We go out with a purpose of meeting their needs."
The group also offers to buy food, coffee and toiletries for sex trade workers.
"We ask them what they need and will try to bring it out to them," she said.
Newman herself was not in the sex trade, but says she was an addict for 15 years, and involved in different cycles "that are in that lifestyle."
She said she started Street Angels to offer a support system for prostitutes who are on the street.
"In case there is a time where they want help, we just want to be there," she said.
Some of Newman's volunteers are former sex trade workers themselves, Newman said.
The work is not without risk, Newman said.
"I don't go out alone," she said. "I stay in as much lit streets as I can. But at the end of the day, you need to do what your heart tells you to do."
Means of survival
Debbie Warren is the executive director of AIDS Moncton and is also part of Moncton's Sex Work Action Group.
Because services for sex trade workers are limited, any kind of outreach is beneficial, she said.
"It's really about connecting with them, so they know that there are agencies that can provide support and in some cases, services," she said.
SWAG's focus is helping the workers access the services they need. But even that is a complicated issue, because of the stigma of sex work and the myriad other issues many prostitutes must dealing with.
"Most of what we're seeing publicly, and there are not a lot of girls out, but a lot of that is survival," Warren said. "We need to work to address issues around mental health, addictions, poverty.
"Because we have found that people we have been able to help access those services, able to stabilize their lives, that some of the outcomes are much better."