Reflections on researching sex work.
As a researcher on the Student Sex Work Project I have been working on the Project since the start, but I am sad to say I am now leaving for a permanent lectureship. Before I go I would like to share some of my experiences.
I have worked for two years as a researcher on the Student Sex Work Project, I can recall now the feeling of starting in Sept 2012; I was super excited about working on a project that would actually do research that made a difference. I should explain that some research in academia is not very applicable or is funded with the best of intentions but reports can often be buried by funders and organisations. By comparison the Student Sex Work Project is an action research project so aims to make a difference to people’s lives. I joined the team, working with Debbie, Tracey and Jo, everyone was really friendly and after a few months of figuring out how everything worked I was up and running. We had a busy first year with attendance at Freshers Fayres, talking to students about the project, sexual health and sex work. Then we got down to the business of collecting data and providing a service to student sex workers.
Working on the Student Sex Work project has been one of the most varied jobs I have undertaken. As with many jobs lots of time gets spent organising, filing, thinking and sorting, but most of the time I have been devising, producing and using data collection tools, such as online surveys or interviews. Alongside helping to run an online ‘chat’ support service for student sex workers. Because of the innovative nature of the Project I have learnt loads of cleaver new computer stuff, I am now able to use Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, I have had to figure out design skills for posters and promotional material. It has been a real learning experience across a massive range of skills.
Over the last few years I have worked with great, supportive people, and I do feel that I have made a real positive difference to people’s lives through the Student Sex Work project, although there have been hard times; such as supporting some student sex workers with difficulties, making difficult choices, working super hard to meet deadlines and having an office that is either way too hot or way too cold! Overall I have loved working with a fab team, learning about some amazing people and experiencing a whole range of new stuff.