Wednesday 16 June 2010

Teen Pregnancy Workers: Working Hard to Support All Young People

It’s a daunting task contacting numerous sexual health and pregnancy services for young people around England but it’s turned into an incredibly rewarding one. In order to create service audit tools for three pilot sites in England that I am working with and to learn how other services are evaluating their provision, I’ve been emailing and calling service providers, administrators and many different workers from all along the pregnancy services continuum – sex and relationships education (SRE), contraception, STI testing, and pregnancy testing services, pregnancy decision-making support, antenatal services, abortion services, and post-pregnancy contraception. Phew!

The workers I’ve spoken to all know that there won’t be much money for the vitally important prevention and support work they do. They know the Department for Education will ask local councils to decide how to cut budgets for their programmes, including teenage pregnancy. However, it’s heartening to hear from dedicated workers of their fierce commitment to implementing and maintaining the strongest sexual health and pregnancy services that they can provide for young people.

There is the UR Choice programme, a Sex and Relationships Education programme in Bradford and Airedale schools that hopes to expand into more schools. There is a great new pregnancy pathway resource used by health workers in the southeast to make sure young pregnant women have access to whatever services they need for whichever choice they make about their pregnancy. There is the robust teenage pregnancy team in the northeast that offers a number of education and health services for young people in schools, at clinics, and in other places young people are through outreach. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Our volunteer supporting this project commented on how impressed she was with the sheer number of services for young people in this country and that she wished she knew about them when she was younger (note: the definition of ‘young person’ varies from service to service, Brook accepts clients up to the age of 25 so do a bit of research before you book in; you never know, you might still be categorized as a young person!).

Despite budget cuts and a lack of public recognition, workers in teenage pregnancy services are working harder than ever and their commitment to the issue is crystal clear to me. Let’s give it up for our sexual health and teen pregnancy workers!

(We’re always keen to learn what’s going on in other parts of the country. Why not tell us what’s going on in your area in the comments section below?)

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