Forest Road West in Nottingham, a known spot for sex workers

A university student in Nottingham has taken up sex work in order to fund her degree after losing her job due to the pandemic.

The student who does not wish to be named said: “I was finding it very hard to have enough money to cover my food bills every week since losing my job at the start of the pandemic. I’ve had to find different ways to pay for my expenses in order to support myself.

“I chose to start doing sex work because there wasn’t much else on offer at the time and I’ve always had an open mind towards sex.

“It works well for me as I can slot it around my uni timetable as I don’t have a set schedule.”

She also added she was aware that her involvement with sex work was risky.

“Although the pay is really good, I understand that there are a lot of dangers such as unsafe working conditions and abuse towards sex workers even online.

“There’s always a risk that people will find out your real name and where you live and this is so easy now that social media is such a big thing.

“There’s a lot of weird people on the internet these days and you don’t realise how easy it is to be traced.”

The average uni student will get around £200 less maintenance loan than their monthly living costs, which leaves a large majority of students to find a part-time job.

Street prostitution is an issue in Nottingham (image: Kay Chernush)

A report by the website Save The Student which gives impartial financial advice found that one in ten students looks into starting sex work if they hit hard times financially.

Sex workers are not only operating online but also near university campuses.

Students living near Forest Road, Nottingham have previously described seeing a worker having sex at the side of their home and finding condoms that were left behind the next morning.

Other people have said they have found human excrement on the grass near their homes. They say that drug addicts and sex workers often group together on Waterloo Crescent where they buy and sell their drugs.

Many feel unsafe leaving their homes at night and would not walk alone through the area, arguing that there should be a greater police presence, better lighting and CCTV to give residents reassurance.

“The whole aim for us is to make the area a safe place to live, work and visit.”
Riz Khan, Nottinghamshire police inspector

Olivia Khan, a first-year student at Nottingham Trent University, is concerned about her welfare.

“I live in student accommodation just off Forest Road and you can’t walk around after 8:30pm without spotting one of them. I’ve never seen a prostitute before so it was quite shocking seeing one just casually standing there.

“My boyfriend walked me home one night because of the issue and how it made me uncomfortable. As soon as he was on his own walking back he was getting catcalled by them, they were shouting asking if he ‘was looking’. He was so uncomfortable that he picked up his pace and thought one of them was following him at one point.

“They’re a real disturbance, they shout down the street to each other! The police know it’s an issue as we’ve had a letter through the door but nothing can really stop them.”

  • A survey of more than 3,300 students by Save the Student website found that one in 25 had engaged in adult work of some kind, ranging from selling intimate photographs to offering full sex for money – up from 6% in 2019.

  •  The adult content subscription site OnlyFans grew by 30 million members between March and August 2020. This is due to sex work becoming more mainstream.

  • In the same survey, 7% of students said they had turned to sex work during the pandemic as an alternative way to making money.

Inspector Riz Khan said 17 kerb crawlers had been stopped since May 2020 by Nottinghamshire Police’s prostitution task force and acknowledged that the issue had been known to the force “for a number of decades”.

He added: “We have kerb crawlers that come to the area in vehicles and the sex worker will accompany them.

“The whole aim for us is to make the area a safe place to live, work and visit.”