A church deliberately leaves its gates open overnight to allow sex workers to use its car park, as it seeks to “engage” with them.
All Saints Church in Liverpool, which is in the city’s most well known area for prostitution, says it has taken the decision to let people use the car park based on its beliefs and values and its mission to help vulnerable people.
Following complaints from local residents, a spokesperson for the church told the Liverpool Echo: “All Saints Church Kensington believes all people are equal before God and wish to be a place of sanctuary for those in need.
“For many years, the church community has engaged with sex workers in the community to offer support, God’s love and to try and offer an alternative path in life.
“That’s why, alongside offering food and emotional support, we work with agencies like Armistead and Addaction to provide professional support to this vulnerable community. This works. We have seen many women move from sex work to rehabilitation in recent years.”
The church’s stance has garnered a mixed reaction from locals.
On Facebook, Brian Comer asked: "How is this loving behaviour? I think it's the contrary! You're making a problem worse!"
And on Twitter, Peter Bradley added: "It's alright for these people allowing this, probably don't live here."
But overall there were more people who could see the positive side of the church’s approach.
“Well done to this church,” said Michelle Walsh on Facebook.
“These girls would go into the park otherwise and working with Addaction is definitely beneficial to these vulnerable women.”
Jessica Renee agreed, stating: "I'm an atheist but can see the good in this church."
The church, in Shiel Road, accepted that the process of building trust takes time and part of its approach is “offering safe, non-judgmental places”.
The spokesperson added: "The church has thought carefully and prayerfully over the benefits and risks of keeping our gates open.
"We recognise that offering a place of safety comes with risk and we know that some in the community are upset and offended by this approach.
"We work hard with our partner agencies to prevent our land being misused and we are always willing to listen to the concerns of the community and to work with our neighbours.
“We always remember the women involved are human beings and recognise they are often so much more than sex workers but mothers and sisters and friends wrestling with a particular part of their lives but not to be judged by that activity."
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