Friday, 23 July 2010

Sex and relationships education

So another Ofsted report today shows that young people are still not getting good enough sex and relationships education. A timely reminder for the new government that it is not working leaving it up to individual schools and reinforces the importance of making it statutory so we can develop a system which trains and supports teachers so they can feel confident in their skills to teach and avoid the embarrassment which leads to clumsy, boring lessons for young people.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

From car tax to sexual health MOT

I was trying to sort out a refund on my car tax after writing off my car a couple of weeks ago at directgov and I was really really really pleasantly surprised to see an advert for getting a 'sexual health MOT and a link to the NHS Choices sexual health site - it has put a smile on my face as I try and make sense of what Liberating the NHS, and some of the emerging and very rapid local responses to it may mean for the commissioning of young people's sexual health services.

If you fancy a smile here is the link, but if you are going through this link I have probably ruined the smile of surprise;

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Ugly Face of Beauty.... the name of a TV programme tonight on Channel 4 about plastic surgery. I found much of the information in the programme unsavoury and reinforced some of my questions about the ethics of some plastic surgery/surgeons.

The programme highlighted again how many young people do not like/hate their bodies. It quoted a survey that found body image is one of the biggest causes of unhappiness amongst young people. Whilst I don't know the details of the survey or the questions asked, this echos my experience and that of colleagues at Brook, and I do know from talking to a lot of young people over the last 15 years that it is an issue for both girls and young women as well as boys and young men. With an ever watchful eye on celebrity, we all as parents, carers, educators and service providers must do a lot more to help children and young people grow into young adults who are confident in their own bodies and have the skills and understanding about diet, exercise and its relationship between emotional health as well as physical well being.

But we must take heed of young people's warnings that simply saying nobody is perfect, we all come in different shapes and sizes, and who cares what other people think without taking their concerns seriously won't make any difference to how they feel about themselves.

We have to understand what influences thoughts and feelings, and changes in gender stereotypes and expectations as well as lifestyle changes to understand what needs to happen at both individual and societal levels to turn the tide on young people's loathing of their bodies.

If you didn't watch it, it is worth viewing.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

World first in sexual health as ‘My Contraception Tool’ launched

Simon is away so we wanted to make sure readers of the blog are aware of this outstanding tool to help people make effective contraveptive choices.

Sexual health charities Brook and FPA today launched My Contraception Tool (v1.0) a unique, evidence-based web tool designed to support people’s contraceptive choices by evaluating their preferences and priorities as well as their physical needs. This new web tool is expected to fundamentally change contraceptive consultations - empowering people’s choice and giving invaluable support to busy health professionals.

Eighteen months in development, and launched simultaneously on both organisations’ websites, the tool combines specialist software, research, expertise in decision making and sexual health and months of user involvement and consultation. Using the latest research into every method of contraception, the circumstances, medical history and personal preferences are input by the user online. These data are then processed and each contraceptive method is ranked in order to suit individual needs.

People can log on to My Contraception Tool at or and answer questions about their lifestyle, medical history and their priorities in terms of contraception.

For the full press release please click

Brook Wirral is joint winner of FPA national award for sex education

I am delighted and would like to congratulate Brook Wirral who have been announced as joint winners of the FPA Pamela Sheridan Award for their All Different, All Beautiful programme.

All Different, All Beautiful is a personal development programme aimed at vulnerable and at risk young people in the Wirral. It is aimed at small groups of vulnerable 13 to 19 year olds and runs in schools, hostels and communities with high levels of deprivation. A series of sessions delivered over five days helps participants to explore values, interpersonal skills, confidence and self-esteem within the context of sexual health and relationships.

A key part of All Different, All Beautiful was the development by Brook Wirral of Bitesize Brook, an innovative approach which provides a learning opportunity for young people. BiteSize events take place in large, open areas and enables young people to access information about STIs including HIV, risk taking, alcohol and other drugs in fun, interactive and memorable ways, as well as acting as a bridge to the range of support services available to them in the community.

Last year we saw the roll out of BiteSize Brook through our network, providing training and resources to several other Centres to deliver the programme – a brilliant example of sharing best practice.

The Pamela Sheridan Award is a prestigious national award for excellence in sex and relationships education. Brook Wirral were joint winners of the award this year with Education for Choice. See the link to the full press release here.