Sex work post-covid

Disproportionately affected by the pandemic, sex workers can experience stigma for just going to work and earning money. This can cause a lot of physical and mental health challenges, but please know that you are not alone. We are here if you need us and there is support available.

LGBT Foundation and The Men’s Room consulted a range of sex workers from across Greater Manchester, which informed the content for this resource. Whether you have started sex work recently or have been doing it a while, and if your work is online, on the street, or at home, we hope there’s something useful in this guide for you.

Some sex workers have found it hard to find accurate information, as misinformation spreads quickly. Since March 2020, we’ve seen a lot of false information making its way around the internet and through word of mouth. It is important that you make sure to double check your sources. You can also talk with organisations like The Men’s Room, National Ugly Mugs (NUM) or LGBT Foundation if want to verify anything you’ve heard. More details for who to talk to are provided in the 'Support' section, further down this page.

It’s best to visit www.gov.uk for the most up-to-date Covid-19 restrictions directly from the Government. We recommend that people take the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it is offered to them, particularly if they’re in a group of people who are classed as medically vulnerable.

We've also created some easy to share images to you to send to friends and family who are sex workers - perfect for sending over WhatsApp!
Click on each of the titles to download an info-graphic on the topic - Money, Clients, Platforms and Support are linked from the banners below, as well as the 'Sex Work is Work' title above.

Some sex workers have found their income changed during the pandemic. If you’re earning more, that’s great!

If your income has decreased, you might be eligible for universal credit. Local mutual aid funds might be able to offer both practical and financial support, too. There are some sex work specific hardship funds to support sex workers in severe financial hardship.

Under government Covid-19 financial support, self-employed people can claim up to 80% of their usual profits. This does apply to sex workers – but only if you were already registered as self-employed before the pandemic. If you have a financial advisor or accountant, speak to them about whether you’re eligible.

If you do need support, please refer to the 'signposting' section of this page.

The world has changed during the Covid-19 pandemic, so sex work has too. You might be changing the type of sex work you do to include more online work.

It’s a good idea to have a range of income sources if you can. Using multiple sites for work will mean that if you’re blocked from using a certain platform, you can still make money and not lose all of your content. You’ll access a wider audience, too!

  • Some sites are deleting sex workers’ profiles, so avoid posting explicit content publicly and delete old posts to protect your accounts
  • For those who are using Twitter as their main platform for reaching clients, be wary of how you advertise as an increased number of Twitter profiles are being deleted, as of January 2021
  • Keep your personal profiles and work profiles separate so that you can keep personal information private
  • Back up pre-created content on an external hard drive or alternative device (like any photos or videos you’re selling, or using to advertise)
  • Try out using free software such as Canva.com to add a watermark to your work. This will prevent people from stealing your images

While there is a lot of nervousness at the moment regarding online restrictions being imposed on sex workers. Please know that there is a still a strong commitment by many in the community to continue to exist in online spaces.

More competition for fewer clients means you might be seeing clients you’d usually choose not to work with. However, your safety is still important so here are some safety tips to protect yourself while you’re working:

  • Use the number and email checker by NUM to see if new clients have been reported by other sex workers.
  • If you have a bad experience, you can report it to NUM who anonymously use the information to inform other sex workers about dangerous clients. Small things can make a big difference, if everyone who has a slightly uncomfortable experience reports, NUM can see the bigger picture much faster. You could be protecting someone else down the line.
  • Try taking the conversation offline – if you get your client to text first, you can use their number to try and search for their social media profiles to check they are who they say they are.
  • It’s worth checking how seriously clients are taking the pandemic. Asking questions like ‘can you have a mask ready for when you get to mine?’ will let you see what their attitude is like and give you chance to decide whether you want to meet them or not.
  • At these times, some clients have been reported to ‘try their luck’ through attempting to push boundaries or time-wasting, as sex workers may be experiencing financial hardship.
Always share your live location with someone that you trust, so they can check where you are and when you leave.
  • If you’re seeing clients at home, leaving music or a TV show playing in another room might make it seem like you’re not home alone.
  • Some sex workers have found getting a video doorbell has been a reassuring addition. This will capture footage of the client as they come and go – these can be found cheaply online!
  • Some found that during lockdown wearing all black when traveling to a client could be helpful. If you’re stopped and questioned you can explain you’re just on your way to work.
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Networking with other sex workers is important and can be very helpful. This is will create connection and keep you looped in with relevant and current information.

Your physical health and mental wellbeing are incredibly important. During the current climate, many have expressed difficulty in securing appointments with certain public services, such as GUM clinics and the council. There are organisations can provide you with a faster route to this support or signpost you to alternative options.

Sexual Health & Testing Quick Links

PrEP Quick Links

LGBT Foundation offer sexual health advice and testing, domestic abuse support, and substance misuse support, among other services for LGBT+ individuals

The Men's Room is an arts and social support charity that works creatively to empower and support men and trans people who sex work

Manchester Action on Street Health (MASH) provides free and confidential support for women who are sex working in Greater Manchester

National Ugly Mugs (NUM) take reports of dangerous clients to distribute safety information to other sex workers, also providing support to sex workers who experience harm

Pineapple Support Society are a free support and therapy service for all persons working in the online adult industry, providing sex-worker friendly, kink-aware and LGBTQ+ competent therapy sessions

Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) provide skill-shares and support meet-ups just for sex workers by sex workers, in the UK

SNAP (previously UKAP) are the UK’s longest running support network for people in porn in the UK

Support and Advice For Escorts (SAAFE) provide an online forum for sex workers and escorts, as well as a resource page containing advice around everything from taxes and spotting timewasters to joining an agency and staying safe

United Voices of the World (UVW) are a member-led, trade union who exist to support and empower vulnerable groups of workers in the UK

  • They have an FAQ section covering your rights surrounding income and finances during Covid-19.
  • You can also join United Sex Workers,(part of UVW). They support sex workers needing justice against employers or other discourse, such as fighting against strip club closures.

Please follow the link to download a printable PDF version of 'Sex Work Post Covid'

This resource was co-produced by staff from The Men's Room and LGBT Foundation's Sexual Health Team. Sex workers were consulted during the development of this resource, their contributions forming the basis of the advice outlined. All sex workers were compensated for their time and energy working on this project.

'Sex Work Post Covid' was commissioned by Manchester City Council.