Perth’s refuge for prostitutes desperate to leave the trade is in serious trouble.
By Robert Hiini
LINDA’S House of Hope, an outreach to prostitutes and their children, will close its doors soon if its financial situation doesn’t improve, says its founder and ex-madam Linda Watson.
Ms Watson says that donations have dried up since the beginning of the global financial recession and that her organisation has had to turn away 10 people on average every three days for the past two months.
In the past year, Linda’s House of Hope has lost five major ongoing donors, with the latest loss coming this week as that donor seeks to deal with its own debt problems. With $3500 of bills outstanding and dwindling income, Ms Watson says she does not know how long the organisation can last.
The house currently helps 30 women with food assistance for themselves and their children as well as providing housing and refuge for women trying to escape “the game,” drug addiction and violence.
Ms Watson described one such family as a woman with an 11-month-old baby and 10-year-old child from New Zealand who are trying to escape prostitution and a damaging relationship.
She is ineligible for government assistance. Her drug-addicted and incarcerated former partner is preventing her from returning to New Zealand because the children are Australian citizens, telling her to return to prostitution to support herself instead.
She was referred to Ms Watson by a local priest who is continuing to give her ongoing moral support.
When Ms Watson met the woman, she had no nappies and no food. Linda’s House of Hope is currently providing food and housing support to the woman and her children.
Ms Watson says she doesn’t know what will happen to the woman and their other recipients of assistance if Linda’s House of Hope is forced to close.
“There is no one else doing what we are doing,” Ms Watson said. “They can try to get help somewhere else but all social agencies are suffering right now.”
If they survive this present financial crisis, Ms Watson says that her longterm desire for the organisation is to establish a farm retreat to provide a place of sanctuary and a means of self-sufficiency. But for the moment that prospect is looking bleak.
For more information or to make a tax deductible donation, call Linda on 0439 401 009.