The scourge of prostitution is destroying the lives of Perth women and their families as never before according to Linda Watson, the founder of Linda’s House of Hope, and she is desperately worried that dwindling donations will force her to close her ministry to those seeking to exit the insidious industry.
Ms Watson began providing avenues of escape from this cycle of addiction, crime and violence in 1999, with the support of Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey, and has since assisted hundreds of people each year.
However as she prepares for this year’s Christmas Appeal, where she will endeavour to provide more than 200 families with food hampers, vouchers and other means of assistance, she is seeking donations to ensure as many effected families as possible can be reached.
Ms Watson said that most people would not understand the broader ramifications on the families of those women caught up in this industry, who, according to Ms Watson, are the hidden victims of the current rampant social catastrophe – emotionally, mentally and financially drained by their involuntary involvement.
Ms Watson was recently approached by a father who was caring for his young grandson, following his son’s death by suicide and daughter-in-law’s continuing loop of self-destruction through drugs and prostitution.
“As he held back his tears he was pleading for help”, Ms Watson recalls.
“He had struggled to pay all the bills and to meet his mortgage payments and he had only $20 in his pocket to feed himself and his grandson.
“I gave him the donated food we had collected and raided our own fridge to ensure he had something to eat later.”
Ms Watson is adamant that situations such as this will only increase as more women are entering the sex industry to feed their addictions.
“98 per cent of women working in this industry are addicted, because those dealing drugs know that through brothels they can target vulnerable women.”
To add to her concerns is the immediate need of a new bathroom for the house she uses to accommodate the women who are making the brave step to begin a new life.
The mission of Linda’s House of Hope is to provide victims and their families with the foundations for a better life, but Ms Watson is finding this increasingly difficult because she does not have the financial resources to cater for the increasing demand.
“We are the only ones I know who are reaching out in this area, but as we are reliant on donations I don’t know how much longer we can go on,” she pleaded.
“Please tell people to help us keep our doors open”.
Donations for the Christmas Appeal can be made by Money Order or Cheque (Payable to Linda’s House of Hope) and sent to GPO Box 5640, St George’s Tce, Perth, 6831 or via Visa, Mastercard by phoning 9358 2544 or 0439 401 009.
Ms Watson also said that practical assistance with repair of the bathroom would also be greatly appreciated.