After the arrival of Covid-19 in Manitoba, many sex workers lost their income overnight and do not qualify for government assistance. When faced with homelessness or not being able to put food on the table, sex workers may see no other option than to continue working despite the risks of not practicing social distancing. We want to help ensure that no sex worker in Winnipeg has to choose between risking exposure to Covid-19 or being able to pay their bills.
This relief fund will be providing monetary aid to sex workers in the Winnipeg area who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are asking for donations and help from allies, clients, organizations, and workers not impacted by the pandemic so that we can take care of our community during this uncertain time.
FAQs about SWWAC’s Covid-19 Relief Fund:
Who will be prioritized for receiving funds?
The Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition (SWWAC) Covid-19 Relief Fund was created for Winnipeg area sex workers who have lost income due to Covid-19 and are struggling. We are prioritizing Indigenous, Black, Trans, and Queer sex workers, migrants and those with precarious status, as well as sex workers living with illness, disability, or in unstable housing situations.
As a fund created by a Manitoba based sex workers rights organization, we recognize the challenges many across our industry face in the midst of social distancing guidelines including workplace closures, loss of clients, and an inability to access emergency resources established by the government.
We also recognize that many in our community do not have the choice to stop working and must navigate sex work in the midst of a global pandemic. This relief fund is meant to support those impacted by Covid-19 in various ways across our industry.
How do you decide who the funds go to?
In terms of disbursement and distribution we use an anti-oppressive framework to understand how sex workers experience different forms of exclusion based on their race, gender, and socio-economic status. We know that these forms of exclusion impact how people apply for and access this fund, so we have made the application process as low barrier as possible.
An online application form that can be accessed on our website www.sexworkwinnipeg.com, as well as SWWAC’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SWWACwpg/ , is one avenue of access to this fund. Recognizing that not everyone will be able to access or complete the online application form, another way to access this fund will be through filling out a paper version of the online application form. Paper applications will be available through SWWAC’s community organization partners. Outreach workers from our community partners will collect paper applications on our behalf. SWWAC steering committee members will then review all applications and provide funds to those who qualify.
We also recognize that outreach workers from our community partners are best able to assess immediate needs in the community on the ground. Therefore, they will be given funds in order to provide direct support to sex workers with urgent needs based on our application criteria in cases where folks are unable to fill out an application form. When a community member is given funds directly from an outreach worker, a receipt will be provided.
Distribution for online applications:
We want to ensure that folks receiving funds are in need, but we don't want people to feel as though they have to disclose a lot of personal and painful information in order to receive assistance. We sought to create open-ended questions for our online application, and when reviewing we apply a low-barrier approach to acceptance. Those who qualify will receive an e-transfer or will provided with cash according to their preference.
Distribution for paper applications:
We know that many sex workers are not able to access the online application form due to issues with access to consistent internet and technology, language barriers, or lack of access to a bank account. With this in mind, outreach workers from our community partner organizations will be given paper versions of the online application form to distribute to community members and assist applicants in filling them out as needed. Outreach workers will then submit these forms to SWWAC for review and approval. As with the online applications, those who qualify will receive an e-transfer or provided with cash according to their preference.
Distribution for immediate needs:
Outreach workers from our community partners will also be able to disburse funds directly to sex workers who qualify for the fund. We recognize that urgent situations might arise where it would be unreasonable to expect people in need to fill out an application form and wait for approval. Community members who are determined by outreach workers to be in immediate need of the fund will receive cash directly from the outreach worker. In cases where a community member is given cash directly, a receipt will be provided by the outreach worker.
Who reviews and approves the applications? What is the process of outreach workers identifying candidates for the fund?
Applications submitted online and paper applications collected by our community partners are reviewed and approved by 3 current SWWAC steering committee members who have sex work experience. We also rely on our community partners’ outreach workers to identify candidates who qualify for the fund. Outreach workers connect directly with community members in urgent need who are unable to complete an online or paper application form for various reasons and disburse funds directly to individuals who qualify.
Who sends the money to recipients?
E-transfers or cash (depending on the applicant’s preference) given to recipients who have applied online or by paper are dispersed directly from the personal bank account of a SWWAC steering committee member. We also distribute funds directly to sex workers who qualify via our community partners’ outreach workers.
In order to ensure that money can get to sex workers in need as quickly and efficiently as possible, SWWAC will administer the funds raised from the GoFundMe campaign through SWWAC steering committee member Stacy Clark’s personal bank account. Stacy will withdraw funds from the GoFundMe campaign to their bank account and immediately disburse the donations to qualifying recipients from our online and paper applications, as well as to the outreach workers from our community partners to distribute directly to recipients they have deemed to be in urgent need.
How much financial assistance does each fund recipient receive?
Each successful recipient receives $100. This applies to all applicants approved by SWWAC steering committee members and funds given directly to sex workers in immediate need by outreach workers from our community partners.
This is a one-time access fund as we want to support as many people as possible. However, we may be able to provide additional funds to some individuals depending on the urgency of their needs, the number of applications we receive, and the amount of donations we collect.
How much money does SWWAC keep for administrative costs?
It is standard practice for many organizations running fundraisers to keep a percentage of the funds to cover administrative costs: the time it takes to organize the fundraiser, reach out to recipients and confirm the transfer of funds.
Due to the nature and impact of Covid-19 on our community SWWAC and our community partners will not be taking any administrative costs from this fundraiser. 100% of the donations go to communities in need.
Information for Applicants:
We will start accepting applications for the fund starting April 28, 2020 and continue collecting applications for approximately 2 weeks before dispersing funds to successful applicants. After this first round, we will be processing applications and distributing funds on a weekly basis if we have the funds left to do so. If you’re application is successful, you will receive $100 by e-transfer or cash, depending on your preference.
To apply for the fund please visit our website www.sexworkwinnipeg.com or our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SWWACwpg/ and click on the link to the online application form.
Questions about the fund can be directed to [email redacted]