The funding will support nine organisations across Scotland, helping them take on extra staff and allowing prostitutes to access support and trauma counselling.
Community safety minister Ash Denham said: “We understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 and the lockdown measures raises the risk of harm to victims of gender-based violence. Women involved in prostitution may be experiencing extreme hardship due to COVID-19 as well as facing additional challenges which need to be addressed to ensure they have access to resources and support.
“No one should feel unsupported during this crisis. Stigma and the hidden nature of prostitution creates a barrier to engagement with mainstream services. It is essential that specialist services, such as those within the Encompass Network, provide a bridge to national support and this funding will enable such services to reach out to women to help them access assistance and counselling.
“We continue to work closely with victim support organisations and justice partners to understand the impact COVID-19 is having on those most at risk, including where additional support may be required, in order to help keep all of Scotland’s communities safe.”
Linda Thompson, national co-ordinator for the Women’s Support Project and Encompass Network, said: “Women involved in selling or exchanging sex in all settings have faced some incredibly difficult times recently and we know how hard it has been for them to overcome barriers for financial help.
“The Encompass Network is pleased to receive this funding for the next three months. This will help offer more direct support to women who are facing difficulties, work alongside them to link into local services and offer some financial help. We need to make sure their needs are met now and in the future as well.”
Neil McGrory , Local Democracy Reporting Service