Join Our Team

We are looking for a Coordinator!

Updated: 2nd December

SWAI has an exciting new opportunity for a highly motivated, experienced person to join our team. The role of Coordinator is to promote the health, safety, participation and dignity of all female, male, cis and trans sex workers in Ireland.  

SWAI is Ireland’s only frontline organisation which works from a harm reduction, non-judgmental and human rights perspective to support the rights of sex workers. We advocate for the right to health, safety, participation, dignity and self-determination of all people working in the sex industry in Ireland. In line with evidence-based policy, we want to see the sex purchase ban repealed, a repeal of brothel-keeping law in Ireland and full decriminalisation of sex work.

The Coordinator reports to the SWAI Board of Directors. SWAI encourages applicants from diverse and non-traditional backgrounds. 

Ideal Candidate

We are looking for someone who believes that organising and working collectively can bring about change. This is an ideal role for someone who feels strongly about tackling injustice and growing power within the sex work community. Do you believe in a model that puts people impacted front and centre of its work? Can you lead projects and support others to lead through training and mentoring teams and communities? Do you have experience of organising, leading and coordinating campaigns? Are you up for rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in? If so, this may be the job for you!

The Role

  • Coordinating, supervising and mentoring to staff members in the area of community work/organising and campaigns.
  • Develop and implement annual work plans to achieve the goals of the strategic plan
  • Oversee a strategy for the ongoing and sustained support for the  participation of sex workers in all of SWAI’s work
  • Working with the admin staff member to identify funding opportunities, develop funding proposals and take responsibility for implementing funded projects
  •  Oversee the development of a campaign to counter the criminalisation of sex  workers
  •  Engage a range of civil society (community groups, NGOs, advocacy organisations, etc) stakeholders to support the human rights of sex workers and alternatives to the Nordic model
  •  Represent SWAI at events, external meetings, on external structures and bodies and in the media
  • Develop relationships with politicians, civil servants and relevant stakeholders as part of campaigning and advocacy work
  • Prepare reports for internal and external purposes and coordinate relevant research and policy positions
  • Increase the capacity of SWAI to advocate for the rights of sex workers in Ireland by coordinating a panel of sex workers to do community outreach and inform the direct of SWAI’s work
  • Report in a transparent and thorough manner to the Board of Directors on all matters relating to the finances and management of SWAI
  • Ensure the organisation operates in compliance with all relevant statutory regulations

These duties are a guide to the general range of responsibilities and are neither definitive nor restrictive. The Coordinator may from time to time have to undertake other duties in keeping with the overall function of the post.


  • Clear ability to manage, support, and lead a team of staff and volunteers in a collaborative and inclusive manner
  • Experience in outreach work, developing trust and connection with individuals and groups 
  • Ability to think strategically and to plan, direct and run campaigns
  • Clear ability to work in a diverse and intercultural context and across a range of stakeholders
  • A self-starter, who demonstrates initiative and has the ability to be creative, flexible and innovative
  • Excellent communication skills; capacity to develop good interpersonal skills and work collaboratively
  • Strong commitment to tackling injustice and advancing sex worker rights
  • Clear about own values – anti-racism, equality, social justice – and a commitment to the power of people working together to challenge injustice
  •  Experience in digital technology 
  • Understanding and critical analysis of sex work in Ireland
  • Understanding of issues facing sex workers
  • Excellent organisational and administrative skills


  • Lived experience of sex work. Please note there is no expectation in this role to be ‘out’ in the media, although if this is something that you are interested in we will provide media training and support.  
  • Experience in a managerial role with experience of providing supervision and one to one mentoring supports to staff ensuring clarity and accountability on priorities and goals
  • Experience and knowledge of community work/organising as method in working for change
  • Experience of developing and implementing funding proposals and projects and overseeing compliance 
  • Knowledge of legislative and policy development and influencing the Irish political system
  • Experience of working within a harm reduction context

Remuneration: €45,000- €52,000 pro rata commensurate to experience.

Commencing: As soon as possible.

Day of Work

3 days per week (21 hours), these hours can be done flexibly. Further hours available dependent on funding and resource allocation. Will include some out of office hours and some travel throughout Ireland. Remote working is optional. 

SWAI encourages applicants from diverse and non-traditional backgrounds. SWAI is an equal opportunities employer.

Images from vigil 2019

Details are as follows:

Event: Candlelit vigil to mark International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Sex Workers

Date: Thursday 17th December

Location: Gates of Leinster House

Time: 6:30pm

Hosted by: Sex Workers Alliance Ireland

The Sex Worker Alliance Ireland (SWAI) will hold a candlelit vigil outside Leinster House at 6:30pm on Thursday 17th December to mark International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Sex Workers. This will be a small, socially distanced gathering.

This year the review of the sex work laws has begun and we worked to ensure that sex worker’s voices were heard in the policy decisions that govern our lives. These laws have increased violence against us and only by full decriminalisation of sex work will we begin to remedy that and centre the safety of sex workers.

Photographers/journalists are invited to attend.

For more information, please contact: [email protected]

Facebook event:

14th June Blood Donor Dayby Adeline Berry

The world appears to be in turmoil and many of us are looking for ways to be part of the progress in making things better. In that spirit I recently emailed the blood donation service in Ireland to ask about their restrictions on donating. I must confess that it’s been a while since I last donated, the last time having been in the US some years ago. The biggest reason I hadn’t donated, besides just being a busy single parent, was that I had gotten tattooed regularly. In Ireland, the waiting period to donate blood after getting tattooed is four months. For many years I supported myself and my family through tattooing, and an occupational hazard associated with working as a tattooer is getting tattooed oneself. I am also a sex worker and have engaged in sex work since my teenage years in one form or another. The reason for my email enquiry was to find out how long I would have to wait since my last sex work appointment before donating. Because of Coronavirus and COVID-19 it has been a few months since most sex workers in Ireland have had physical contact with clients. A day after emailing my enquiry I received a response. I am banned from donating blood indefinitely. This was surprising to me. I of course fully support reasonable precautions designed to protect us all, but I can’t help wondering how reasonable these precautions are. I am not a haematologist of course, but I do know we live in a complex world where sometimes precautions that are purported to help can also be designed to cause harm. An example of this would be Irish laws relating to sex work which were promised to benefit sex workers but have instead resulted in a ninety-two percent increase in violence and evictions, jailings and deportations for the very population these laws were purported to help. These laws were fought for by non-governmental organisations purportedly founded with the idea of helping the vulnerable. The organisations that lead the charge however were founded by religious orders, or were themselves religious orders, whose histories are steeped in human rights abuses designed to control the Irish working class population by rounding up and imprisoning Irish women that fell outside of polite society’s notions of what constituted an acceptable woman: impoverished sex workers and single mothers.

So why is there a lifetime ban on sex workers donating blood? As a client, you are asked to wait twelve months before donating after having engaged in sex with a sex worker. Similarly, you are asked to wait twelve months before donating if you are a cisgender man who has had sex with another man even if a condom was worn. This is effectively a lifetime ban on monogamous cisgender gay couples from donating as long as they are sexually active. So, what about cisgender heterosexuals? Why is there a presumption that heterosexuals are more likely to be sexually monogamous than gay men? To say that we in Ireland have been provided with substandard sex education for all would be an understatement. My experience of formal sex education was being taught the very basics of human reproduction during religious studies in my teenage years. Outside the classroom my informal sex education is ongoing. From my perspective as a sex worker who is constantly in communication with other sex workers, it is quite common to encounter Irish clients both young and old that do not understand the importance of wearing condoms during sex. Rather than empower sex workers as recent changes to Irish laws and policing were purported to do, sex workers have instead been made more vulnerable. Though street work in Ireland has been legalised, heavy Gardaí presence, intimidation by Gardaí and continuing arrests have reduced bargaining and negotiation time for sex workers and time to decide whether a vehicle is safe before stepping into it. Undocumented workers are afraid to carry contraception for fear of having them in their possession used against them by Gardaí as proof of engagement in sex work. Clients have been emboldened by sex workers’ increased vulnerability, demanding unprotected sex and lower rates from workers with threats of bad reviews and refusal to continue seeing them as clients. I have spoken to numerous migrant sex workers that have told me about their frustrating attempts to educate Irish clients regarding the use of condoms. So, are we then to simply assume and accept that Irish cisgender clients are using condoms with their partners and spouses if they are that adamant about refusing to use them while having sex with a stranger? Are we to simply accept and assume that cisgender, heterosexual, Irish men and women are being open and honest with their partners and spouses regarding their various infidelities and excursions to visit sex workers? Do current blood donation restrictions account for cisgender Irish men that identify as heterosexual while continuing to secretly engage in sex with other men? Stigma in Ireland still keeps many married heterosexual, heterosexual-identifying and bisexual men closeted and secretive with regards to their sexual encounters with other men, transgender women.

When I emailed the blood donation service, I didn’t disclose what type of sex work I engaged in and nor was I asked. What if it had been camming? Or phone sex? Sex work encompasses many forms, from in person sex to pornography. The form of sex work I have been engaged in for the past several years, domination, has not involved me receiving the body fluids of someone else or transmitting mine to them. What if it was simply a cuddling service that I provided, where the client and I lay fully clothed in a bed just holding each other while we nap for a while? In Ireland, paying for sex work is defined as

“Payment etc. for sexual activity with prostitute: 7A. (1) A person who pays, gives, offers or promises to pay or give a person (including a prostitute) money or any other form of renumeration or consideration for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a prostitute” while sexual activity is defined as “any activity where a reasonable person would consider that (a) whatever its circumstances or the purpose of any person in relation to it, the activity is because of its nature sexual, or (b) because of its nature the activity may be sexual and because of its circumstances or the purposes of any person in relation to it (or both) the activity is sexual” (Criminal Law, 2017).

There’s that word reasonable again. In Ireland all manner of activities have been deemed sexual by people we have assumed to be reasonable, from jazz dancing and attending the cinema to driving in a car (Luddy, 2007). “Reasonable” Irish men and women fought for recent harmful changes to Irish sex work law. “Reasonable” Irish men and women in the Gardaí Síochána regularly evict sex working women, including single mothers, from their homes and imprison young women, including ones that are pregnant, simply for working together for safety. I am friends with a married couple that do cam work together. This mostly involves them having sex with each other in front of a camera. To the best of my knowledge they are completely monogamous and faithful to each other. Is it right that they be banned from donating blood for life simply because they pay their rent through camming? I myself am in a monogamous relationship. My spouse is also a sex worker. Neither of us receive bodily fluids from anyone outside of our marriage during sex either through work or outside of work.

Reasonable precautions protect us all, but can restrictions on blood donation by sex workers be considered reasonable? Or are they designed, intentionally or otherwise, to further the long, continuing, persecutory history of stigma against us? If the purpose of these precautions is to decrease risk of infecting the blood supply and not to stigmatise segments of the population, then blanket bans on sex workers need to be lifted and then considered on a case by case basis.


Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) 2017, Retrieved from

Luddy, M. (2007). Prostitution and Irish society, 1800-1940. Cambridge University Press.

Neon sign of workers holding a hammer and a vibrator

Has your income dried up because of the pandemic?

Do you put in more hours online for less money than you would have before Covid-19?

As a freelance worker do you find it hard to prove where your money came from to apply for emergency welfare?

Well, then your experience of the coronavirus is much like a sex worker’s. Sex workers should have your solidarity because sex work is work and we should all be as safe as we can be.

Unions and labour movements have fought for safer and fairer working conditions. They have changed laws and brought in regulations to ensure that society is structured to benefit the worker. Do you stand with all workers?

This pandemic shines a light on the cracks in society that we knew already existed.

There are many individuals that are shut out of traditional types of work for a plethora of reasons, people such as transgender individuals, undocumented migrants, members of the travelling community, people living with disabilities and people who use drugs.  People in direct provision are refused permission to work while being forced to survive on €38 a week. International students are only allowed 20 hours a week and single mothers without family support and college students often find it difficult to find work that fits their available hours while paying their bills.

Right now, in Ireland, a law exists which puts workers in danger. It was brought in with great fanfare by groups whose funding is dependent on the silence or compliance of sex workers, purporting to save workers from their own exploitation. The workers themselves were against the law and were not listened to when they warned that it would make them less safe. Workers were told that they would not be heard because we have a financial interest in the laws that govern our very lives and existences. What they are referring to is our survival. Since the law was passed violence against these workers has risen by 92%. But the law has made it less likely for these workers to report crimes against them. Trust in Gardaí has dropped to less than 1%. Workers want to be able to contact Gardaí without fear of worse repercussions such as arrest, eviction and deportation. Workers can now be jailed for working together for safety. Workers are being evicted and denied housing because of these very laws. This leaves them open to exploiters who take advantage of them being alone. We are flat-out refused to be recognised as workers, Ireland has criminalised our means of survival. We are stigmatised as people suffering from false-consciousness or as vectors or disease, and so at this time we continue to operate on the fringes of society, becoming even more susceptible to poverty and or ill-health. Not everyone gets to decide the type of work that is available to them but they still have rent and bills that need to be paid regardless. Every worker deserves to be safe, including sex workers. 

Harm reduction, sex work and Covida-19

For sex workers

As sex workers ourselves, we know that when everyone is being told to isolate our work gets hit. If you can take some time off to stop working and social distance now is a good time. 

We also know that some people will need to work to survive. This blogspot outlines a harm reduction approach to sex work during the coronavirus. Do the best you can, that is all anyone can do and you are the best person to make decisions about the reality of your life.

Covid-19 spreads through droplets when a person sneezes or coughs. The virus has a long incubation period so people can transmit without showing symptoms. The safest possible scenario is to keep a distance from others of two to three meters. We know this makes most of our work impossible! So, some suggestions for safer work during this time are:

  • Refraining from kissing and insist on condom-covered services including for blowjobs and dental dams for rimming.
  • Positions like doggy style or reverse cowgirl are better to limit contact and make sure you and your client take long hot showers before and after.
  • Make sure your client washes his hands for 20 seconds upon entry, and when he has left clean all surfaces that he has touched (including doorknobs and handles) with soap and water. Anti-bacterial wipes are okay, soap and water is better.
  • Try not to touch your own face as this is the way the virus enters the body.
  • Take extra care to wash any sex toys that are used
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds or longer between each client, after being outside and after handling money 
  • Do not do in-person sex work with a client who is displaying symptoms of the virus
  • Do not do in-person sex work if you are displaying symptoms of the virus
  • Each worker charges according to her situation but if possible do not drop your prices. Remember that for your client this is leisure but for you, it’s your livelihood

We know us sex workers are already very good at protecting our health, we just have to be extra careful at this moment!

Please note that there is now a firewall between immigration and the department of health so even if you are undocumented you can still contact a doctor if you have symptoms of the coronavirus.

If you need anything from SWAI, even just for a chat please get in contact with us. We would love to hear from you. 

For clients

Please note that sex workers have always been impeccable when it comes to hygiene. 

  • If possible try to seek remote sexual services such as video or phone sex. Please note that this may not always be possible
  • Ensure your hygiene is exemplary. Note that you are responsible for your own health
  • Wash your hands immediate for 20 seconds or more when entering the premises
  • If running water is not available please use hand sanitiser
  • You should always respect the boundaries a sex worker has but now please do so for your own safety
  • Tip generously, sex workers are always impeccable about hygiene but are taking a risk to see you
  • Wear a condom for all sex acts (without complaint!)
  • Do not seek the services of a sex worker if you are displaying symptoms of the virus
  • Do not be racist to members of the Asian community
  • Donate to the SWAI hardship fund
For allies

SWAI Hardship Fund

SWAI Hardship Fund

On Saturday 21st March the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland launched our crowdfund to ensure that some of society’s most vulnerable people can survive. 

All non-essential workplaces have closed and people are being advised to stay indoors and to ‘social distance’ from each other. This is having a particular impact on the sex industry. Already sex workers are seeing a dramatic decrease in clients. Clients are staying away, hotels are closing or at least disallowing non-residents in, and university students are being evicted in swaths if they are in student housing, in order to keep people apart.

We in Ireland were already living under the Nordic Model, which meant a reduction in decent clients for sex workers. This pandemic will make it so much worse for sex workers.

We know from first-hand accounts that street workers, in particular, are feeling the sting of the efforts to curb COVID-19. Most of the street workers in Ireland are truly working at a survival level and this will not change under the current lockdown.

We have also contacted high-level politicians and government departments to request that we are included in any meetings about high-risk populations. We have asked for the cessation of all garda raids on sex work-related activity for the duration of Covid-19, in particular for issues such as ‘brothel keeping’, which in most cases involves two or more people working together for health and safety.

We ask you to give what you can to help precarious workers make it through. This money will go directly into the hands of sex workers through individual emergency payments. Any little helps.

Woman in mask imageEarlier this week we sent the following email to the caretaker Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and caretaker Minister for Health Simon Harris as well as other state departments. Sex workers who are experiencing financial difficulties, much like other precarious workers during these times, are being affected by Covid-19. We must be included in any plans for vulnerable populations and we cannot remain invisible to the state during this time.

We are writing on behalf of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) regarding measures and public awareness strategies to combat Covid-19. We wish to offer the full support of SWAI and to participate positively in all efforts to mitigate the impact of this health crisis.
There are currently thousands of people in Ireland involved in sex work-related activity involving considerable interpersonal contact. Examples include escorting, massage, stripping and sugaring. For some of the more vulnerable members of the sex working community their accommodation in hostels and homeless accommodation may increase their risk further.
The advice of the National Health Emergency Team to minimise social contact will inevitably reduce the levels of this work. However, it is inevitable that sex work-related activity will continue.
This situation will both very seriously impact the ability of sex workers, many of whom have dependents and family, to earn an income and continue to pose significant threats to the health and general wellbeing of both sex workers and their clients.
Openly addressing this health crisis is greatly complicated in the area of sex work by the fact, that while our work is deemed legal under 2017 legislation, our clients at the criminalised.  Co-operation with health professionals, contact tracing measures, self-isolation, etc are seriously impeded by the provisions of this law.
To facilitate the fullest engagement by sex workers in the battle against Covid-19 we request the following:
1) Inclusion of SWAII in all communications and information regarding best practice and control measures related to Covid-19
2) Participation of SWAI in relevant sub-committees dealing with vulnerable and most-at-risk categories of individuals and communities
3) Confirmation that funding and welfare payment measures for the general community, including earlier sickness benefit and its extension to the self-employed, applies fully to sex workers.
4) Cessation of all garda raids on sex work-related activity for the duration of Covid-19, in particular for issues such as ‘brothel keeping’, which in most cases involves two or more people working together for health and safety.
5) Establishment of a specific SWAI /gardaí liaison arrangement to address the separate issue of trafficking during the period of Covid-10 measures.
6) Suspension of current stigmatising advertising campaigns such as ‘We don’t buy it’ during Covid-19, as the messaging in these campaigns drives sex workers and their clients further away from engagement with health professionals and necessary participation in mitigation and self-isolation requirements. 
7) Inclusion of SWAI in the notification for any process related to small grants or payments to promote health and safety at local community level or vulnerable persons categories related to Covid-19.
We look forward to supporting the combined government and community based effort to successfully address Covid-19 and to hearing from you.


We want to work with Gardaí so that crimes like these can come to justice

On Monday Nolan Keown was sentenced to 14 years in prison after attacking, sexually assaulting and robbing two sex workers in 2016 and 2018. 

Kate McGrew, director of SWAI and current sex worker sais “These attacks occurred before and after the sex purchase law, we need to reiterate that this law does not deter men who know their behaviour is already criminal. A sex purchase ban does nothing to deter people who were already willing to break the law with actual violence. The law only gives these egregious humans more cover and brazenness to do so, as they know that workers are unfortunately less likely to engage with Gardai under this law.”

She continues “However we are very grateful for the work of An Garda Schoicana. We know that we can work together to keep perpetrators not only out of our industry and community but off the streets. 

The law was introduced with great fanfare but what it has resulted in is a 92% increase in violence against sex workers. In this instance, the change in the law did not deter Mr Keown from his violent acts as the occurred before and after the law. 

We are willing to and encouraging of all sex workers to work with Gardai to make Ireland safer for everyone. But the evidence shows that many more sex workers working together for safety have been arrested under our so-called brothel-keeping laws than criminals who have attacked sex workers. Last year two migrant women were prosecuted for working together for safety, one of which was pregnant.  Trust in Gardaí has dropped to less than 1% since the introduction of new penalties for working together for safety. 

Sex workers are not legally allowed to work together for safety. Attackers know that if workers are working together it is considered a brothel. Sex workers who work together are very unlikely to report to the Gardaí because they fear arrest. If a sex worker works alone this can make her more vulnerable to attacks. Sex workers working alone are reluctant to report to the Gardai because they fear that Gardaí will surveil them looking for their clients, or they won’t be believed. Criminals know this and target both workers alone or together.

We ask the government to make this work between sex workers and Gardai more realistic and effective by abandoning the law that works against these important efforts. Currently, Gardai efforts are forced by law to focus on policing and raids when their role with us should only be one of protection. We call for full decriminalisation of sex work as it has proven in New Zealand and Australia to vastly improve relationships between sex workers and police. We all deserve to be safe. 


#DecrimforSafety #SupportSafeSexWork

Kate McGrew, current sex worker and director of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland said “Yesterday, Thursday 5 March, a private meeting was held between the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI), The Rainbow Project, and sex workers.  It was a constructive meeting and was well-attended by sex workers of many different backgrounds working in Northern Ireland.”

She continued “PSNI Sex Work Liaison Officers (SWLOs) were introduced in 2015, following the advocacy work of Laura Lee.  At this meeting it was announced that the number of PSNI Sex Work Liaison Officers (SWLOs) has now been increased from two officers to six officers and there is also now a new dedicated contact email address for the SWLOs – [email protected].”

Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman, Head of PSNI’s Public Protection Branch opened the meeting speaking directly to sex workers and saying: “It is not for us to judge, discriminate against anyone, from whatever background, whatever work they do.  Our role is to keep everyone safe and that includes you in the room here with us this evening.”

At the meeting the PSNI, SWAI, and the Rainbow Project all spoke about what each organisation is doing to improve the safety and well-being of people in sex work.  A representative from The Rowan, Northern Ireland’s regional Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), also spoke about their services and their sex worker friendly approach.

Kate also stated “This meeting provided an important opportunity for sex workers to provide feedback to the PSNI and for everyone present to recommit to working in partnership on an ongoing basis.  For reasons of privacy, we will not be publicly detailing the discussions that took place. However, SWAI is very pleased that the PSNI want to listen to and support sex workers.

A more detailed update following the meeting will be circulated to sex workers only next week.  The Rainbow Project are also now organising monthly sex worker only meetups, on the first Tuesday of every month.  If you are doing sex work in Northern Ireland, please know that there is sex worker friendly support available to you, including the sex worker led work that SWAI does in Northern Ireland.  We are here for you.

Prior to the event, SWAI and Reclaim the Night came together to temporarily re-name Queens Square ‘Laura Lee Square’ in honour of all our much loved and missed colleague, Laura Lee.”

#DecrimforSafety #SupportSafeSexWork