It’s three years today that Hull City Council renewed the ‘section 222’ legislation that was endangering sex workers and two years today that we met with them for our first legally mandated consultation on the replacement strategy which followed our subsequent court case (thank you Public Law Project). This October 21st we are on our way to London to celebrate the landmark (40years!) of another group of change agents raising the voices of women fighting discriminatory systems (English Collective of Prostitutes).
Today we also want to highlight just how much has changed in these last two years, since a group of professionals rallied around the consultation process and turned it into a whole new venture of coproduction. We now meet regularly with this group, which we named ‘FLIP’. The meaning is both a gut punchingly literal verb, and an ironically verbose four-letter acronym (the type that we love to hate). Apt: because this group attempts to bridge both ends of the system change spectrum. And it’s far from where we want to be but we’re proud of the collective energy that is making it possible.
This year we want to mark our October 21st anniversary with a developing idea which is helping us to shape this group, two years from the first seeds of dialogue. It’s what we call our ‘FLIP Tree’. The natural life of a tree has helped depict what the natural life of our FLIP process, with the women we represent at its roots, should be. Their voice rises like the sap and life source of trees, all the way through the trunk of our ‘Why’ which brings us together, the branches of ‘How’ we want to work, to ‘What’ we are going to do in response to what we’ve heard. This in itself is a reversal, a flipping, of the upside-down nature of the systems that put outcomes, work plans, processes, job roles, and even their reasons for existing, before the people they are meant to connect with. Have you ever met a tree in the living world with its fruit in the soil or its roots in the air?