Thursday, 10 December 2015

The #AskBrookAppeal – can you help?

Over 1,000 young people reach out to Ask Brook every month.

Ask Brook is our text and webchat helpline that provides young people with information and support on everything from sexual health to abuse, mental health issues to pregnancy choices. In a digital age, accurate and reliable information can be hard to come by. Ask Brook provides honest, non-judgemental advice to young people across the UK who have nowhere else to turn.

Please support our Ask Brook Appeal today

Alex White, our Ask Brook Service Manager, explains why the helpline is so important:

“A really big part of what Ask Brook does is to help young people access services. For a lot of young people, a sexual health appointment – through Brook, their GP, or a GUM clinic – will be the first ever medical encounter they've had without their parents. A lot of our clients worry about confidentiality, and being judged, and talking about private stuff to a stranger, and in lots of cases they don’t even know they can freely access such services – they think that because they're young the same rules don't apply.

“We’re only able to answer around 50% of the webchats we receive – something we’d love to be able to change. It would be great to recruit more volunteers, especially young volunteers, and to be able to run focus groups to find out from young people what they really want from the service.

“Ask Brook reaches over 1,000 young people every month, but we know there’s more demand for our service than we can currently fulfil. Ask Brook is vital because for many of our clients, they don’t feel there’s an adult in their life that they can talk to. We can give them affirmation that their concerns are justified and that help is out there.

“My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported the #AskBrookAppeal – you’re all amazing, and you’re directly helping young people who often don’t have anywhere else to turn.”

It costs £4.49 to provide a young person with support from Ask Brook – however this vital service receives no government funding.  

Can you help Ask Brook provide young people with the support and advice they need to stay safe and well this festive season?

Our service users tell us what Ask Brook means to them: 
“Sometimes it’s just good to have someone listen to you and understand.”
“I've learnt a lot from you. They never taught us this in school.”
Thanks so much for your support.  I just don’t feel comfortable speaking with somebody face to face.”
You are a brilliant team and so helpful to many young people, your quick responses are also brilliant. Thank you.”
“Thanks very much. It wasn't easy for me to talk to someone. You guys are doing a great job.”

With your support, Ask Brook can connect young people to the places they can go for help and give them information, as well as reassurance, when they feel like no one could possibly understand.

Please help us spread the word on Facebo
ok and Twitter using #AskBrookAppeal. Support the Ask Brook Appeal and we’ll send you a festive e-card to send to your friends and family too.

From everyone at Brook, especially Ask Brook’s staff and volunteers – and on behalf of the thousands of young people who use Ask Brook’s service – thank you!

World AIDS Day 2015 - Brogan and Lisa conquer the O2!

Brogan and Lisa on top of the O2!
We're very proud of Lisa Fontanelle, Assistant Practitioner for London and South East and Brogan Hardiman, one of our young volunteers for completing the O2 Climb Challenge for World Aids Day and making their Live HIV Neutral pledges.

Brogan said:  
"The climb was such an amazing experience, as it's something different and you don't really imagine yourself being able to do it. I was wary at first about how the climbing would go and how we were going to be connected to the rail. It's good fun especially when you have your friends to do it with.

"I personally think we need to tackle the ignorance and stigma about HIV because it's a topic that is misunderstood, a lot of people don't like to talk about this or even talk about the facts.

We were asked to choose a word - I chose Informative ... because I think people need to know more factual information instead of listening to information 'through the grapevine', people still need to be educated on this and there isn't enough of that happening at the moment."

The Live HIV Neutral climbers

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

#WorldAIDSDay - poetry and pledges

A World AIDS Day display at Brook Oldham
Today (1 December) is #WorldAIDSDay #WAD2015.

Brook has endorsed new guidance from the Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA) on HIV Friendly Schools, which are really important for children and young people living with HIV, as this Guardian article shows.

Here's a poem written by the CHIVA youth committee (@freedom2spk) on what it's like living with HIV, and experiencing stigma – a powerful piece. 
I sat in a classroom afraid to speak up, I had the words to scream but my mouth got stuck.
Oppressed and silenced, mistreated inside, trying to stand up, but forced to hide.

Once it was a death sentence, I'm still alive, even in the present, HIV is stigmatised.
I live a double life, that I'd like you to understand, I'm HIV positive, but this was never planned.
They say school is a safe place, but not in my case.
Forever stigmatised in a sea of struggling, they say "don't die of ignorance" the message was troubling.
I dream of a future, where stigma is no more, I want to see a change, from those that went before.
I can still live a life full of love, joy, ambition, success and health.
What do we need from you?
Educate yourself.

Our pledge for #LiveHIVNeutral - education is key to tackling
the stigma and ignorance surrounding HIV.
We’re also encouraging people to take the Live HIV Neutral pledge, promising to tackle HIV stigma and ignorance whenever you encounter it – whatever your serostatus. The need to tackle stigma is underlined by this GMFA video, featuring examples of the types of messages sent to men with HIV on dating and hookup apps.

Brook’s services around the UK will be marking World AIDS Day by educating young people about HIV, and promoting safer sex – young people’s knowledge of HIV is worryingly low.