Improving the situation for street prostitutes in Eindhoven

Levenskracht. Service Design for Street Prostitutes in Eindhoven 


Photo: Sedes Research

What was the problem?

Between the years 2000 and 2009, the City of Eindhoven spent 500,000 euro of tax money per year for the so called Tippelzone, a legitimate area in Eindhoven where drug-addicted street prostitutes could ply their trade.

The priority goal of this project was to find an alternative solution to this very controversial outlay of public money and, at the same time, improve the living conditions of the women. The challenge however was now to create a new concept for the women without falling back into the problems that existed before the establishment of the Tippelzone.

Until 2000, prostitution had taken place in an inner-city area of Eindhoven and it brought dealers, pimps and criminals to that area. It became a very difficult environment, dangerous and unattractive for many of Eindhoven’s citizens.

This service design project aimed to solve the city’s financial problem of putting tax money into a partially illegal enterprise while also creating better living conditions and free choice for the women. The overall mission of the project was to actively and collaboratively help the women to take more responsibility for their lives and to live a life without having to prostitute themselves any longer.

What have they done?


Photo: Sedes Research

The designers performed a system analysis in which they collected as much insight as possible about the system using ethnographic research tools and service design specific tools. Also system visualisation, highlighting the patterns, tensions, contradictions within the system and the key issues that stabilise the system, was used.

Later on these insights and key issues were translated into opportunities.  Creation sessions were organised where ideas for change could originate. For all this, the service designers collaborated with addicted women, caretakers, politicians and industry, as well as specialists like social workers and psychologists from other cities.

What was the result?

In 2010 Levenskracht started to work with a pilot group of women in order to test and improve the concept and analyse the impact and the financial aspects. In 2011, Levenskracht replaced the Tippelzone.

It now helps the women to establish stable life structures away from drugs and prostitution, giving them opportunities for new jobs, health support and safe places to live. The development and the delivery of Levenskracht services was done in co-creation with the women: they will be part of the service delivery system.

The concept of Levenskracht puts the focus on shared responsibility, where the women are not ‘served‘ by social services, but work together with them.

The Levenskracht service includes two major service lines: basic support and extended support. The basic support gives continuous improvement on health, independence, education and relationships, even if the women do not succeed in making major changes in their lives regarding drug abuse. The advanced support covers services around the challenge of physical and social detox and tries to enable the women to live an independent life without drugs and prostitution.

The incentive program provided a credit system that mutually increased the experience of small successes and motivation levels.

Both service lines are integrated into an social service organisation where a one-on-one relationship between the women and the social workers is established.

The key provision of Levenskracht is a continuing education program: a structure of workshops building upon one another gradually provided the women with a set of skills through which confidence was raised and they were reintroduced into the learning environment.

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