Friday, 30 December 2011
Some of Brook's key successes this year have been;
Making the transition to become one unified organisation in April - the energy, commitment and determination of managers and trustees from the 16 organisations that made up the Brook Network was awesome through the review that led to a decision to change our constitution. This was critical to ensuring a smooth transition.
Any organisational change of this size requires all of us involved to look at things differently and to change our world views. And through this transitional year I have appreciated enormously the support and challenge of colleagues - trustees, managers and staff - to keep us on track and make sure that different perspectives are understood. And amongst all the internal change, business as usual has continued, continuing to secure and contracts and funding so we can provide education and services across the country to those young people who need them most.
If I was to have the last 8 months again, there would be many things I would do the same, and there would of course be things I would do differently. But what I still know to be true is that Brook people remain determinedly focused on young people - developing creative and innovative responses to their needs in the face of major internal and external change. And I appreciate this commitment and professionalism enormously.
This year we launched a formal collaboration with FPA over the year, and this partnership has allowed us to focus our resources effectively, reducing duplication and maximising our expertise. I look forward to continuing this exciting collaboration in 2012 which includes the first ever UK Sexual Health Awards on March 15th 2012 - find out more at http://www.brook.org.uk/
At the same time we have been a loud and vociferous voice in support of relationships and sex education - as part of our Sex: Positive campaign developed by our young volunteers, we launched the 21st Century SRE campaign which has already got over 2200 supporters including boyband JLS. If you haven't already you can sign up at http://www.sexpositive.org.uk/ As someone who disagrees vehemently with me about the importance of RSE said in a recent [heated] phone call, 'like what you and your organisation stand for or not I have to say your views have really been loud and clear this year.'
It was fantastic again this year to see the sustained reduction in teenage pregnancy rates when the data was published for the final year of the previous government's strategy. Evidence that we do know what works, and that if you get all the elements right including support for parents, SRE in schools, access to contraception and effective youth provision then teenage pregnancy rates can and will fall.
And given that a central plank of success in reducing teenage prenancy is good education it is so disappointing that progress on getting Relationships and Sex Education a normal everyday part of school life has slowed. The politicisation and polarisation of ideas and views about RSE have been disappointing. We know the consensus in support of RSE remains - most young people, parents and professionals support RSE, and we must ensure that we trust that consensue when some media are deliberately misleading and shrill in their approach. I was unhappy that the government launched the PSHE Education consultation with a closed mind about whether any changes are needed in legislation to improve RSE, particularly when we thought we had been so close to securing a statutory entitlement for all children and young people.
Similarly the politicisation and polemic about abortion, particularly counselling for women considering or seeking an abortion was of great concern this year. Brook of course supports any measure to improve the quality of counselling and support women facing an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy face, we wait with interest to see the government proposals about counselling for women facing a pregnancy choice. But lets be very clear the rhetoric that independent abortion providers have a vested interest in 'pushing women towards abortion above all other pregnancy choices' is offensive to women's ability to make decisions and choices and quite simply untrue. I fully respect people's right to feel morally opposed to abortion. However I cannot respect any drive to limit women's choices and access to services or to influence their decision about abortion with misinformation. We know from evidence from around the world that where abortion access is denied or limited it does not stop abortion, it pushes the procedure underground, making it stigmatised and unsafe. We need only look to Northern Ireland to see how difficult antiquated laws make it for women who want to have an abortion.
As we look to 2012 we know what works and we know there is an economic case for investing in education and services that can see an immediate, and often in year, return on investment. And we know the shifting responsibility for Public Health to Local Authorities could provide new opportunities to think holistically about young people, health and well being.
But there will be challenges: history shows us that when money is tight spend often moves from prevention and early intervention to 'treatment' or unavoidable costs. As a commissioner or a finance director if you are not responsible for the 'treatment' costs and the primary job is to balance the book how do we ensure investment is maintained in the best interest of young people's sexual health? The shift of responsibility for Public Health to Local Authorities will also inevitably be challenging through the transition, and some of the sexual health expertise will undoubtedly be lost.
Sir Stephen Bubb has just sent through his top tips for ACEVO members for 2012 - they were
Look after yourself
Get your personal leadership plan nailed
Stay positive in the face of adversity
Messages that all of us, whatever our role and wherever we work, in the public, private or voluntary sector will do well to take heed of. As a colleague said last week, 2012 won't be easy for young people and sexual health. So let it be the year we look after ourselves and remain committed to our personal and professional development, stay positive in the face of challenge and consistently speak out in support of young people's sexual health and sexual rights. With ever increasing pressures on finances, major change in the health system, a small number of loud voices who oppose young people's sexual rights, and the increased determination of local priorities it will be the confidence that comes with over 45 years experience at Brook that will enable us to keep young people's sexual health on the agenda.
I am proud that i can say with complete and utter confidence that our teams across the country will strive day in day out to deliver the best quality services and education for young people; to be a loud and confident voice in support of young people's sexual rights and advocates and champions for the change we want to see.
Goodbye and thank you 2011, hello and welcome 2012. Right time to get that fancy dress sorted.
You can read more about the difference Brook makes and at http://www.brookannualreview.org.uk/
Follow Brook on twitter @brookcharity; @besexpositive or follow me @simonablake
Friday, 23 December 2011
You can read about the difference we make in our online annual review and impact statement at http://www.brookannualreview.org.uk/
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Thursday, 13 October 2011
We commissioned a survey and have also launched a petition to demand SRE for the 21st Century. The survey found that nearly half – 47% of young people said their SRE was unsatisfactory or nonexistent. And 26% of the young people we surveyed say that they got no sex and relationships education at all.
You can read the blog about the launch on the besexpositive Tumblr page. And also sign the petition.
Follow the campaign on Twitter @besexpositive and become a fan of our Facebook page
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Last night I was talking to a friend who is staying with us at the moment and she asked the straightforward question, 'what is all the fuss about'. And when you try and answer it, that is the question - we have to stop talking about whether to provide it, and instead move to how to do it - consider how we ensure teachers up and down the country are well trained and supported to provide young people with the sort of sex and relationships education they want, deserve and will need if they are to navigate the path from puberty, through adolescence and into adult with confidence and joy.
I feel like I am in a bit of a timewarp when it comes to SRE - the same debates rehearsed predictably often and we want to stop that circle and move on. Young people say they want good quality SRE, parents overwhelmingly support school SRE and professionals also support SRE because they know that young people need help and support to understand their bodies, their emotions, relationships and develop the skills to manage their lives. Indeed successive Government's point to its importance. Having been involved in this work for over 15 years, I and many others who have also been on this journey want to see a step change in commitment to SRE, and ask Government to mandate and support schools to deliver. I still believe that statutory SRE across the key stages is the best route to go down, but as I have said many times before as long as every child gets their entitlement to SRE to help them be confident, happy and safe I don't actually care what mechanisms are used to achieve SRE fit for the 21st Century.
This is a once in a decade opportunity to influence policy makers and parliamentarians make the changes all the evidence tells us are needed. We want to make sure the voices of the overwhelming majority who support SRE are heard. Help get this sorted once and for all. Visit www.sexpositive.org.uk and sign our petition to UK Parliament to create SRE fit for the 21st Century. Please help us spread the word - blog it, tweet it, talk about it so Brook can work with partners to make young people, parents and professional voices heard in the PSHE Review. We will be blogging and tweeting facts from the survey throughout the week - please join in the conversation.
Please take five minutes to help us achieve 21st Century Sex and Relationships Education - www.sexpositive.org.uk
Thursday, 29 September 2011
The Dorries Amendment on abortion counselling was defeated and Anne Milton confirmed that government will be consulting on proposals in relation to counselling. Is it possible to disagree with the notion that women who need counselling should have quick and easy access to non-judgemental, non-directive quality provision?
I do however remain concerned that the debate about counselling provision has led to the search for a solution where there is no problem to fix. There continues to be confusion about what currently happens and what does not happen, about what counselling is and what is isn't. At Brook we are completely committed to ensuring that everyone gets the support they need to make decisions about their pregnancy, and that where required they receive counselling. However the debate and the discussion is unhelpful because it perpetuates myths and misinformation about the current state of play. This is one to watch and to make sure the voice of the pro-choice majority is heard loud and clear - abortion care should be equal to and as good as all other aspects of health care but it should not be subject to unnecessary change, additional hurdles and regulation. And lets be very clear abortion provision is regulated by CQC.
I have spent a week in Cornwall enjoying extreme rain and late September sun with lovely friends. In the middle of the week I spent a morning with staff from Brook Cornwall about what the Brook change programme means for them and exploring their hopes and learning more about the particular local context they are working in. I then went to the stunning Dartington Hall in Devon to spend the evening at the SW Region Public Health Conference at which I was delighted to learn that Gabriel Scally has been appointed as Chief of the clusters of Strategic Health Authorities in the South of England. The pre-dinner presentation on the environment and health was fascinating particularly the pilots being undertaken in Cornish workplaces to improve the relationship between health and productivity.
The Family Education Trust has published their report Unhealthy Confusion, which unsurprisingly argues that a healthy school does not need to provide sex and relationships education. I of course do not agree with this supposition at all - how can a school be a healthy school if children are not learning about relationships both to help them in their relationships within school, their emotional development and ability to seek and ask for help as well as play a pivotal role in safeguarding and protecting children from harm?
The Lib Dems conference took place in Birmingham and the Labour Party Conference has taken place in Liverpool, with just the Conservatives left next week in Manchester.
It was great to see old colleagues and friends, as well as meet new ones and particular pleased at how many local councillors are really interested in ensuring the sexual health needs of their population are met in the changing context. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for all of us interested in sexual health to make contact with local councillors to ask questions, provide information and ensure that teenage pregnancy and sexual health stays on their radar - they have a lot of plates spinning right now.
Saturday, 3 September 2011
But thinking about age is not new, I have often written here about the importance of remembering what it feels like to be young - real empathy with and understanding about the realities of young people is an outstanding quality of Brook staff that I see time and time again as I visit Brook Centres.
On a day to day basis, like most people I don't feel too different than I did when I was in my mid 20s. Yet more and more I look in the mirror and am surprised to see my Dad looking back at me. There are tell tales signs that I am no longer 18; fast onset of greying hair, my increasing love of celebrating Friday with a quiet night in, rather than a night of partying that ends at dawn, I constantly check my watch if out in the week to ensure I am home before 10.30. These little things have all crept up on me without even noticing mostly.
We do however need to think and talk about age. We need to be clear what our offer is for young people in the UK. I want young people to be young. I want young people to have a chance to influence decisions that affect them, and I want young people to be treated like they are young - not in a patronising way but in a way that recognises a 15 year old should not have the same responsibilities as they likely will later in life. I know that circumstances mean that some young people - those who are carers for example - do have responsibilities and it is vital that they also are given the support to fulfil these, and the space to be young.
When I think about age a lot it is triggered by memories - in the last 48 hours I had a phone call from a friend I haven't seen for 20 years; on thursday friends I went to Ibiza with over a decade ago have gone again - I will never know on balance whether I am deeply envious or deeply relieved I said no. I know how tiring it is. Yesterday I cycled past the old site where our favourite club in Kings Cross - The Cross - used to be and smiled to myself remembering how wonky I often felt when we left. This morning I have been planning for our trip to Cornwall later this month with my group of friends who spent much of our late teens, twenties and thirties together. And as I have been planning I have reflected a bit on how our lives have changed and developed. How responsibilities and roles have shifted - as friends, partners, employees, partners, uncles and aunts.
I don't write this to be self indulgent but to reflect on what we want for our young people. At Brook we know that how young people's experiences of being loved and cared for and allowed to realise their rights impacts on how they manage their relationships and sexual choices. We also know that most young people want to be and are responsible.
There has been lots of talk of how young people are going wrong in the post riot weeks and the importance of instilling responsibility in young people. I agree with the premise of responsibility, and at the same time I worry about some of the suggested means to do so. I am a responsible active citizen. I want to contribute to making things better. But that was not instilled in me with hefty discipline or ASBOs. It was through being loved and cared for, having an extended family that introduced expectations, created boundaries and told me clearly when I had crossed the line. Through having the opportunity to take risks and (often) get hurt because I took them. It happened because I was allowed to be young - not treated as a child, but not expected to be a 'fully fledged adult' either, and it happened most of all because I had the opportunity and the encouragement to do things I wanted to do and to achieve. All young people deserve this.
Over the last few weeks I have been discussing the riots with people I count as socially liberal. The riots, or more probably the reporting of them, have sparked a deep belly anger in many of these people and specifically soured their views of young people. And some seem to have lost their skills of discernment, failing to recognise this was a small minority of young people (with adults) and that the majority of young people were not involved. I hope the post riot analysis takes us to the root causes of the problems and as a country we think carefully about what our offer is for young people. Without a firm offer for all young people that we make sure we deliver on, even without a crystal ball I predict further unrest. Worse than that, too many young people will not have the chance to be young and create a happy memory bank and learn vital skills to manage their lives now and in the future.
The government is currently consulting on its Positive for Youth initiative - find out about it and respond here - http://bit.ly/q673GQ.
If you, like me, think being young should be the time of your life please stand up for young people and continue challenging the negative perceptions and assumptions that underpin one of the socially acceptable prejudices of our time - 'youngpeopleiphobia'.
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
This counselling for women (who may or may not go on to have an abortion) is in the news because the Health and Social Care Bill is before Parliament next week. If successful an amendment to the Bill, laid down by Frank Field and Nadine Dorries, would stop those who provide abortion such as BPAS and Marie Stopes to provide that counselling. This is an unnecessary and unhelpful amendment based on the premise that those who provide abortions are driven by profit - Hmm - interesting they are non profits. And they are regulated by Care Quality Commission.
Field said on Newsnight last night that he had no evidence of 'wrong doing'. He went on to say there was no evidence of mis-selling pensions until it was investigated. As Zoe Williams writing in the Guardian today http://bit.ly/nMcN8R said 'then lets investigate' instead of aiming to use backstreet politics to create policy and legislation based on myth, misinformation and lies.
I won't rehearse those myths and lies here, but this amendment is dangerous. It is dangerous for a number of reasons. Firstly it is not based on science nor is there evidence of a problem that needs fixing. Secondly stopping those who provide abortions will delay and block access - this still happens too much anyway. We really don't need more delays and blocks in the system. Those distressed young women who contact Brook because they have been blocked or experienced unbearable delays bear witness to that. And it is dangerous because the motivation of some organisations who currently provide counselling and seek to provide more 'independent counselling' is to frighten and scare women away from abortion thus restricting their right to choose (see Education for Choice mystery shopping report for more information http://bit.ly/mVCcP6.
Finally it is dangerous because abortion law and policy cannot be driven by anything other than science. That is wrong. Other attacks such as the one on the time limit can only have legs if abortion law becomes separated from science.
Those (young) women faced with a decision to make about whether to continue with her pregnancy WANTING counselling deserve the highest standard counselling which is non-judgemental, non-directive and impartial. Full stop. This amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill will not take us closer to that goal. I urge you to write to your MP NOW and tell them you oppose the proposed changes to pregnancy choices counselling. Follow this link to FPA's website and find out how http://bit.ly/nxbMmW
Thursday, 11 August 2011
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
Sunday, 3 July 2011
Thursday, 23 June 2011
Monday, 20 June 2011
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Friday, 10 June 2011
Tomorrow's SlutWalk in London, and the slut walk movement across the world has sparked a lot of debate in our office and having talked to our colleagues in FPA we know there are differences of opinion at FPA too. Not the stand it is making - everyone agrees that sexual assault and rape is always unacceptable and that it is always always always wrong to blame victims of sexual assault for the crime. But mirroring discussions on the street, in schools, women's groups and households across the world we are divided about the use of the term 'slut' and about the ambition of the campaign to 'reappropriate' the word.
These questions are really useful and interesting questions and ones that I hope will continue to be debated and discussed - there is no doubt the debate about language can be useful - but like so many things sometimes the process of debate and discussion can become polarised and the debate and discussion becomes the task rather than actually getting on and changing attitudes and behaviours about the core issues. So to be absolutely clear on this one, whatever you or I think about the term slut and the validity of reappropriation lets us all be very clear that that rape is always unacceptable. Attackers are responsible for rape and sexual assault, never, ever the person who is raped or assaulted.
Monday, 6 June 2011
Below is a joint statement from Brook and the sexual health charity FPA responding to the Bailey Review and its recommendations:
We welcome the publication of this report, ‘Letting children be children’, and its recommendations on addressing the commercialisation and sexualisation of children and young people.
Schools have an important part to play in helping children and young people build confidence and self esteem, so they can understand and critically analyse sexualised images and messages enabling them to be resilient to their impact. Therefore we believe this is a missed opportunity not to recognize the role of good quality relationship and sex education in schools, as one of the report’s key recommendations.
We welcome measures that help parents voice their concerns, but we also think more can be done to support parents to have a dialogue about these issues in the home. In our opinion it's far more beneficial for parents to have a discussion with their children about why, for example, pornography presents an unrealistic picture of sex, than to just report the fact that their child accessed it.
FPA and Brook work with thousands of young people and parents every year. Young people tell us they are often ill-equipped to deal with a highly sexualised society. Parents want to work with schools to address this hugely important issue. We urge the Government to consider the role of statutory sex and relationships education along with the other recommendations proposed in ‘Letting Children be children.'
Friday, 3 June 2011
If you would like to come along to help celebrate the tickets are £15 (one pound for every year) and this includes entry, food, comedy, music and some excellent prizes on offer. These include football memorabilia from Everton FC, Bolton FC and Manchester City FC, original art work and tickets for a variety of events.
You can contact email@example.com for tickets or ring 0161 233 2192.
Thursday, 26 May 2011
“Like many, my first response to the news that Life had been given a place on the Government’s Sexual Health Forum was a sharp intake of breath and a rush of anger. There’s so much history between the pro-choice and the anti-choice movement and much of it is bitter and personal.
Anyone who’s been on the sharp end of anti-choice campaigning tactics – the call I had when I was pregnant saying they hoped my baby died of a sex infection, having to draft ‘parcel bomb policies’ to protect staff in the 90s, the name-calling (we’re baby-killers, pornographers and child sex advocates, don’t you know), the intimidation of young people accessing services - will struggle with the idea of sharing a platform with any anti-choice organisation.
When my first flush of anger subsided, I reflected for a while to see if I could find a less emotional reaction, and I thought about Brook’s work. Here, through our education work, we aim to help young people to set, understand and respect boundaries, to develop and hold values, to negotiate relationships and to build a level of self esteem and self confidence which will enable them to navigate whatever life and relationships throw at them.
We do all this, and more, not just because we are passionate, committed and motivated to improve young people’s lives, but also because we have the evidence which tells us that this work, combined with our clinical, advice, information and counselling services will make a difference.
It would be a shame, wouldn’t it, I told myself, wagging my finger, if we weren’t able to adopt the same approach to difficult situations as adults that we aim to help young people develop through our work.
So, I took a deep breath, thought about the 260,000 young people who come to us for help and support every year, thought about the 600 talented and committed staff who work with them and thought about all the other excellent organisations in the field who make a difference to young people’s lives every day. And I realised that all that good work will continue regardless of the make up of a government forum on which Brook still has a confident, values driven, evidence based position. And from that position, we can ensure that the voices of young people are put front and centre and their needs are always paramount, just as we have always done.”
Monday, 16 May 2011
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
I highlighted how important it was that we listen to what young people tell us. For well over a decade young people (both boys and girls) have been saying that they want to learn more about emotions, and more about relationships and real life situations.
The evidence about what works supports their view, it’s time to stop the circular debate and for government to provide a clear mandate and ensure the mechanisms are in place so that teachers can get on with the delivery of high quality sex and relationships education.
Any debate that polarises views about SRE is unhelpful when there is a broad consensus amongst children, parents and professionals about what needs to be delivered. It’s time to recognise that abstinence education has been so discredited by the evidence that it’s hardly worthy of debate.
The link to listen to the interview again is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b010xw4x and the piece starts about 12 and a half minutes in.
Friday, 6 May 2011
On Wednesday a 10 minute rule Bill brought forward by Nadine Dorries which was voted to pass to second reading. The 10 minute rule Bill proposed providing girls aged 13 - 16 with lessons on abstinence. This completely disregards what children and young people have been telling us for decades - sex and relationships education needs to include more about relationships, real life dilemmas, emotions, peer pressure and influence, gender, sexuality etc etc.
I agree completely with Chris Bryant that it is ludicrous legislation and thankfully I agree with John Smeaton from SPUC who noted there is a slim chance of it going anywhere at the next stage.
But of course it did provide another liberal dusting of misinformation and myth about what teachers do in the classroom. It is disrespectful of and can frighten those doing a good job helping children and young people navigate their way through a sexualised world. Given that we know providing good quality SRE is part of the solution, not part of the problem we really don't want to undermine people's confidence.
The premise underpinning the Bill is wrong on many levels. It is wrong because it disregards the broad consensus amongst parents, children and professionals who agree that we should be providing comprehensive sex and relationships education in schools. It is wrong because it ignores completely the evidence that discredits abstinence only education and it ignores the evidence that shows comprehensive sex and relationships education helps delay first sex and ensures young people use contraception when they do choose to have sex.
And it is wrong because it feeds the myth making and fear machine that prevents real progress in this area. I have never seen or heard of 7 year olds being taught how to put a condom on a banana in the classroom. Have you? And if I did I would think it was inappropriate. Would you?
Finally it is wrong because it suggests we don't know that learning about saying yes, saying no, saying maybe, learning about consent and pressure, individual choice and autonomy and developing self respect, confidence and communication skills is a fundamental part of sex and relationships education at the secondary school.
A small minority of people may support this Bill. I, like most people, am not of their number. Are you? So to the teachers, youth workers and others doing excellent sex and relationships education thank you for the work that you do day in day out to help support our children and young people. Most sensible adults appreciate the work you do enormously.
Pledge for the sex:positive campaign at www.sexpositive.org.uk
Thursday, 5 May 2011
Follow their Sex:Positive campaign on Twitter @besexpositive and pledge your support (free) for a Sex:Positive future http://www.sexpositive.org.uk/
Thursday, 28 April 2011
A great new video from the V team at Brook about why it is so important to listen to young people as part of the sex: positive campaign. I really recommend watching it and ask you to tweet it, share it and recommend it.
Thursday, 21 April 2011
This is extremely disappointing and the potential for individual women, particularly young women, and doctors carrying out the procedure to be identified is deeply worrying and unethical.
The link to an article in the Telegraph (which quotes Brook) is here.
Sunday, 17 April 2011
Now I wasn't there, and I don't know the details but on face value, being thrown out of a pub in the 21st Century for a 'gay kiss' is quite remarkable. Perhaps even more remarkable because this was a pub in Soho in our capital city. And I am delighted there was direct action taken by hundreds on Friday night. Voicing our immediate objections about unfairness, prejudice and social injustice is vital.
And so is taking the long term view - changing our still wonky culture about sex and sexuality is key to enabling young people to grow up able to enjoy their sexuality and safe from harm. This remains one of the most important tasks we face.
Day in, day out at Brook we see young people who are ashamed, worried, embarrassed and confused about sex and sexuality. Young people who want and need adults to help them navigate their way through adolescence and into adulthood. And it makes me both angry and sad that our society is willing to judge and demonise young people: on the one hand chastising them to be more responsible and more moral, yet at the same time denying them the basic information, education, support and access to services that is vital in helping them to manage their lives both now and in the future, and enabling them to make relationship and sexual choices they can both enjoy and take responsibility for.
And that is the basic premise of the www.sexpositive.org.uk campaign - we must all do our bit to ensure that young people grow up in a sex:positive world. A world where they grow up confident in their own skin, equipped with the full range of life skills they need to take control of and responsibility for their choices and only choosing to have sex when they want to, because it is right for them. So are you doing your bit to improve the culture for young people? It doesn't need to cost money - simply speaking out in support of young people, listening to their views about issues, challenging the sensationalist journalism that reports on increasing rates of teenage pregnancies when the opposite is true, challenging the outrage that comes pouring in when skilled professionals are putting the evidence about what works into practise, providing access to information - none of these things costs money.
And if you are committed to the cause and doing your bit, have you pledged to be sex:positive yet? If not, please go to www.sexpositive.org.uk and pledge now. Its free, its easy and its important. We cannot allow another generation of young people to grow up without the education and support they need. It is morally wrong to do so and unless we take an active stand, situations like that reported at the John Snow pub will continue to happen far too frequently. Most of the time we will never hear about it but that doesn't make it any less wrong.
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Wednesday, 6 April 2011
At Brook we are passionate about young people’s sexual rights and as a trustee you will provide commitment and direction to advance our radical approach to young people’s sexual health.
The specific roles Brook is recruiting are:
Treasurer: to provide financial leadership to the board.
Service users (two vacancies): to ensure the perspective of actual or potential service users on the board.
Lead trustee – clinical governance: to provide leadership on clinical governance and chair the sub committee on clinical excellence.
Lead trustee – safeguarding: to provide leadership on safeguarding and protecting young people, and chair the subcommittee on safeguarding.
Trustee: parliamentary experience - to provide expertise on influencing parliamentarians across the UK.
The commitment equates to between 8 – 12 days a year and the roles are voluntary (with out of pocket expenses paid).
If you are interested in applying you can download further information here.
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Today the Scout Association launched a national relationships and sexual health programme, My body, my choice, and published a resource for Scout Leaders plus a handout for young people.
Local leaders will run the programme aimed at Explorer Scouts (aged between 14-18). Brook really welcomes the initiative and the introduction of this type of no nonsense material, and commend the Chief Scout Bear Grylls for being so supportive of this important area.
The resource provides guidance for leaders on how to approach sex and relationships issues, as well as activities and games to help young people to think about various issues.
The material is clear and simple and is exactly the type of information young people tell us they need to help them understand how their bodies work and to help them make informed decisions about these matters.
You can find out more about the resource here.
-------------------------------------------------- Help us create a sex:positive society - pledge your support (free, quick and very easy) at http://www.sexpositive.org.uk/. Follow us on twitter @simonablake @brookcharity @BeSexPositive. Facebook - BrookCharity
Saturday, 2 April 2011
Yesterday we launched the new Brook organisation. To make this happen, on Thursday the national office board who owned the Brook licence, brand and trademarks etc, assigned all the rights to the new Brook board and the Brook Network of independently constituted charities became part of one new Brook organisation. Although Brook in Northern Ireland did not join the organisation at this stage discussions continue and all of us remain focused on and committed to meeting the sexual health needs of young people in Northern Ireland with its particular culture around sex and sexuality.
The face of the voluntary and community sector is changing, with unprecedented mergers and collaborations being developed to find creative and thoughtful responses to weather the economic environment and continue delivering services for their users as best as possible. And whilst the economic environment is important and there will be financial benefits in our new structure, Brook's change was based on our strategic requirements following the publication of our strategy over two years ago. A proactive rather than reactive move. And I am sure it is absolutely the right one.
The strategy set out an ambitious goal to double the numbers of young people we reach each year. This change in our organisational design and governance structure will enable us to better achieve this goal. And the discussions and work that got us to April 1st have been robust, challenging and enormous. I am immensely proud to have been part of the process and thank everyone - trustees, staff, consultants, lawyers, supporters for making this incredible journey happen. I particularly want to thank the outgoing national trustees who have been there from the beginning and whose vision, boldness, support and challenge has been truly remarkable. They have been a pleasure to work for and with since I started at Brook in 2006. I will miss them enormously.
And now the real work starts - I keep reminding myself that this is the starting line, not the finishing line! The interim senior management team meets on Monday and Tuesday to identify how we will work effectively together, and establish our priorities for the year. The interim team led by me brings together a mix of existing Centre Directors, national office senior staff and someone new to the organisation which is a heady mix that is absolutely right for the transitional year.
The second phase of trustee recruitment has already begun. We are looking for six new trustees to join an already strong board. We are looking for a 2 service users, a treasurer, as well trustees with expertise in safeguarding, clinical leadership and parliamentary and policy. Further details will be on the brook.org.uk website next week. Do look if you are interested. Recruitment also starts for the permanent CEO later this month with the aim being to get the permanent CEO in post from October 2011.
Thursday was also a sad day: like many other organisations across the country we closed the doors on services for the last time. For us it was our service in Stockton. Young people are now expected to use all age services with a new provider. I cannot believe young people will not lose out under the new arrangements. Whilst I do not agree with the rationale to close specialist services for young people and I don't believe it will generate the savings Stockton is looking for, I sincerely hope the new services provided by sexual health Teeside will be used by young people, particularly the most vulnerable, and that the hard work that has gone into reducing teenage pregnancy rates which remained stubbornly high until the last couple of years, will not be undone. I will watch closely with interest.
I went to the Stockton team's closing party on Wednesday night, and despite the uncertainty for many of them about their individual futures, I was impressed and humbled by their spirit, solidarity and continued commitment to young people in Stockton and to Brook. In the face of difficult cuts, it can be hard to focus on the successes of the service and what has been achieved for young people over the last four years since it opened. The closure was particularly poignant for me as it was the first new service that opened under 'my watch'. Of course it had all the normal bumps along the way, and some more. And through the dogged determination of staff Brook Stockton we had quickly become a respected provider of services and an expert in young people's sexual health. It is ironic and sad that it is closing down when it had really started to fly and make a difference.
I have just had a call from my father whilst I was typing this blog. When I was at Uni in the early 90s I was tipped off about some shares to buy. As far as we knew I had wasted the £100 which I had scraped together from an overdraft, but a letter has arrived and it looks like I may have made 500% on them. A pleasant surprise.
So, tonight I look forward to seeing my partner. It is fair to say I have been absent from home both mentally and physically for the last month or so, and I look forward to spending some proper time catching up on our tales.
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Brook and other organisations develop shared messages in response to Public Health Service consultation documents
These shared messages are from: British Association Sexual Health and HIV, British HIV Association, Brook, Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, FPA, Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health (MedFASH), National HIV Nurses Association, Terence Higgins Trust, and National AIDS Trust.
These shared messages address issues raised in the Public Health White Paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People, and also consultations on the proposed Public Health Outcomes Framework and on funding and commissioning routes for public health – they can be found on Brook’s website athttp://www.brook.org.uk/professionals/application/brookpr/index.php?option=com_brookpr&view=article&id=84&Itemid=640