Practice Guidance

Beyond the Gaze ‘Practitioners Guidance for Working With Online Sex Workers’

Download the BtG (2018) ‘Practitioners Guidance for Working With Online Sex Workers’ University of Leicester here.

As well as being informed by findings from the Beyond the Gaze (BtG) surveys of projects, sex worker survey and interviews, this guidance has been shaped by practices and experiences shared by a range of individual and organisations. This has included discussion and consultation within the BtG and National Ugly Mugs (NUM) Practitioners Group. Thanks to all those who have taken part in that group which first met in September 2015, all have contributed by sharing practice and thoughts which have shaped this guidanceBig thanks to NUM who have been a partner in the research and supported the project in a range of ways.   Thanks to those online sex workers, who cannot be named for matters of privacy and confidentiality, but who contributed to this guidance, took part in BtG research interviews and the larger sex worker survey.

This practice guidance is based on the collective practice & knowledge shared by all those individuals and organisations who took part in the research about their experiences of working in the online sector. In the spirit of not reinventing the wheel we refer to and flag up some existing information and guidance resources.  Working within the confines of word limits this guidance is unable to do full justice to all the information and practice shared, but it does highlight some key learning points from BtG which practitioners may choose to consider in their work.

Aims of the guidance:

  • To share key learning from BtG about the support needs of online sex workers (OLSWs).
  • To offer guidance about providing information and support services for OLSWs, including netreach methods.
  • To provide information about other existing relevant guidance and resources.


N.B.   Regulations for charities, social enterprises, statutory sector bodies as well as wider policy and law related to sex work and online regulation, technology and the online terrain are constantly changing. Hence whilst the authors have tried to ensure the accuracy of the text, we accept no legal liability for any errors or omissions and would expect all developing practice to work within their own organisational polices and take steps to ensure their work is informed by current legislation and statutory guidance related to their work. We advise practitioners and organisations to use this document as it is intended, a resource which shares some learning from research and practice at a point in time .

Beyond the Gaze Practitioners Forum

Beyond the Gaze established a practitioner’s forum at the start of the research project made up of practitioners from sex work support projects, health and other services, and practitioners in the digital health field.  This group was supported by National Ugly Mugs. The group had a range of objectives including to;

  • Act as a practitioner body for Beyond the Gaze to consult with.
  • Share practice about the work sex work support and other health agencies are doing to provide information and support services to internet based sex workers.
  • Identifying challenges projects are facing in providing accessible and relevant services to internet based sex workers and generating ideas for how these could be overcome.
  • Support the development of practice guidance for working with online sex workers. Produced by Beyond the Gaze and supported by National Ugly Mugs .
  • Help identify other national resources which would aid sex work support projects and other health agencies working with sex workers to reach out to internet based sex workers, including a digital resource for project launched in the final year of Beyond the Gaze.

At the launch of the Practice Guidance September 2018 the objectives are being reviewed and it is hoped the group will continue in some form supported by the University of Leicester  and National Ugly Mugs.