Young people are exposed to sexual imagery across the internet and in the media. They learn what they believe is normal from images that can reflect unhealthy relationships between unrealistic sexual partners. When what they need is information about positive relationships, considering the needs of their partner, talking to their partner, love, emotions, friends and resisting pressure to have sex.
To highlight good sexual health, the Family Planning Association’s Sexual Health Week takes place 12-16 September. The week raises awareness of the importance of safer sex and this year is focusing on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), raising awareness about where to test, encouraging condom use and busting some common myths.
In 2015, there were more than 435,000 STI diagnoses in England, and rates across the UK remain high compared to other countries in western Europe. Although lots of young people learn about STIs at school, this isn't consistent and is often just biological, which means infections may not be discussed in the context of enjoying safer sex and relationships.
In Gloucestershire, Prospects is working with young people to promote good sexual health, as part of the Youth Support Team. Across the county young people can access the C-Card scheme. This service provides young people under the age of 25 with free condoms, dental dams, lube and sexual health advice.
It is confidential service aimed at reducing the risk of young people contracting an STI and reducing unwanted pregnancies. To get a C-Card the young person meets a C-Card trained professional, such as youth worker, school nurse, support worker, who will register them giving them access to the scheme, during which they will complete a condom teach and have a discussion regarding safe sex and relationships.
Together they talk about sexual health making sure the young person understands about safe sex, healthy relationships, STIs and the risks of passing on infections, emergency contraption and what happens should a condom split. Consent and the right to say no is an important issue alongside sex and the law and these areas are covered too. Talking to parents and carers is also discussed and how the young person can be supported to talk to their family.
For many young people sex is part of growing up and becoming an adult, however, for some child sexual exploitation and grooming are concerns and together with the trained worker, they explore how this could affect them, or their friends and family. Spending time to discuss sexual health is vital to the success of C-Card scheme, making sure the young person knows where they can get help and use their C-Card to get additional free condoms, dental dams and sexual health advice.
During Sexual Health Week and the week that follows, Gloucestershire YST can be found around the county supporting young people and raising awareness of the C-Card.
On 15 September they will be at the Wellfest Event at Hartpury College where young people can register for their C-Card and there will be a free condom distribution.
On 20 September the team will be at the Fresher’s Fayre at Stroud College, again raising awareness and giving students and young people the opportunity to register for C-Card.
The following day on 21 September there is a Fresher’s Fayre at Gloucestershire University in Cheltenham where young people can get information and register for a C-Card.
Finally, on 22 September there are C-Card workshops giving information about the scheme, discussion about consent and opportunity to register at Bridge Training, Gloucester.
To find out more about the C-Card or how Gloucestershire YST can help you visit https://youthsupportteam.co.uk/services/sex-relationships.
Prospects, the education, employment and training company, work in partnership with Gloucestershire County Council to provide the Gloucestershire Youth Support Team. The Gloucestershire Youth Support Team offers a range of services, all free for the young person seeking support, impartial advice and encouragement to make a difference to their lives. The Youth Support Team work with approximately 6,000 vulnerable young people.
The multi-disciplinary team is made up of youth workers and family support, health and careers specialists, social workers, police and probation officers. Acting as an integrated team to identify young people who are most at risk, and intervene early to prevent issues and problems from escalating.
More than 90% of young people supported by the Youth Support Team say it has made a difference to their lives.
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Alona de Havilland
07790 803882 or 01823 362804