In the early 1980s, social service professionals realized that little consideration was given, in situations of prostitution, to the medical and social care of young people. A task force was created which revealed sexual taboos in the social service sector and a lack of data on juvenile prostitution. A grant was awarded to the Bureau de Consultation Jeunesse (BCJ) to conduct an action research project to explore the world of prostitution of boys, to shed light on the situation and to identify possible intervention approaches. A core group of 20 volunteers, primarily young men engaging in prostitution, was formed for the purpose of developing resources that were appropriate for the project, original and close to their realities: the group became incorporated in 1982 under the name of the Piamp. From the outset, the organization stood out for its stance relegating the young people to the status of victims, and proposed an intervention approach promoting young people’s freedom of choice. Thanks to the commitment and initiatives of the volunteers and the work team, the organization then took the form of a drop-in centre, a creative centre and a food bank.
In the 90s, street work became a valuable form of intervention at the Piamp. Moreover, the volunteer sector allowed the organization to develop many projects: the Piamp continued to play a key role in the Montreal community.
In the early 2000s, noticing that the streets had become increasingly deserted by young people exchanging sexual services, the Piamp realized that it had to adapt to social changes, new means of communication and the new online reality. To this end, the organization organized a symposium in 2011 to discuss prostitution among young people in the digital age. This event allowed the Piamp to realize that they needed to update their services.
In 2014, a new work team took over. They reflected on the mission of the organization, examined street work in the different neighbourhoods of Montreal and engaged in a dialogue with the new generation of young people in order to adapt the Piamp’s services. In 2019, the organization underwent a major reconsolidation: the team again questioned its intervention practices and discussed alternatives that would help them more effectively reach young people. Bolstered by these discussions, the Piamp now has big projects for the future and is particularly active in the community, meeting the needs of young people.
Roundtable meeting of former Piamp employees
As the 35th anniversary of the Piamp approached, former employees got together to discuss the early days of the organization and its contribution to society, which denied the existence of the exchange of sexual services for any form of compensation among young people. In this video, the Piamp introduces you to Gilles Tardif, Jean-Guy Nadeau, France Tardif and Stéphanie Ricard, the former director of the Piamp.
The discussion then centres on the history of the organization, which included the opening of a drop-in centre for young people, an important place where they could receive guidance and have their needs met. The meetings held by active members (ASMA) are also discussed.
To conclude, the Piamp’s approach towards young people who exchange sexual services for any form of compensation was discussed. Intervention, particularly through street work, takes the form of guidance based on trust and the promotion of self-reliance in young people. The Piamp’s goal is not to rehabilitate young people; instead, it is to support them and meet their needs non-judgmentally.