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PARTNERSHIP PROMOTES SEXUAL HEALTH

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Communicating information on sex and sexual health to young people has never been easy but the new 'C-Card' scheme ...
Communicating information on sex and sexual health to young people has never been easy but the new 'C-Card' scheme seeks to make sure that no one is left out.

The partners in the 'C-Card' project are aiming to build knowledge about safe sex and increase access to confidential sexual health services. The key to the project is the 'C-Card', a card providing simple information on accessing sexual health knowledge and help. By signing-up to receive the card young people will receive free condoms along with free, unobtrusive advice.

In rural villages and small towns in Somerset young people often have concerns about confidentiality when seeking sexual health advice and may experience difficulty in accessing services. The C-Card helps to promote access to services and information.

There are at present over 15 voluntary, statutory and community groups including Somerset CC and Somerset's four primary care trusts working together on the project. A pilot of the scheme was launched in Yeovil in June 2005. By March 2006 450 young people had signed up to the C-Card in the pilot area alone. The launch of the C-Card takes place across the rest of Somerset during March and April 2006.

The project is the fruit of extensive network building. The four Somerset primary care trusts provide the condoms and training to support the project. The smaller voluntary agencies committed some finances to the project as well as enthusiasm, skills, expertise and time. The partnership also generated newsletters, a web-page on the NHS site and extensive promotional materials.

Karen Butt, sexual health promotion manager for Somerset said: 'From the outset it was clear that promoting sexual health amongst young men needs a multi-agency approach which reflects the needs of young people in a rural area and actively involves them in the project. I believe that the C-Card has achieved both.'

Pauline Clarke, Somerset CC's portfolio holder for strategic children's services added: 'Whilst the C-Card scheme is not unique to Somerset, the multi-agency approach certainly is and the large number of agencies working so successfully together makes this project particularly effective.'

Notes

- In April 2004 the Somerset Teenage Pregnancy Partnership Board identified the need for a Condom Card scheme in Somerset to encourage young people - especially young men - to access sexual health information and to promote the use of condoms for safer sex. The development of the C-card was supported by both the Somerset Sexual Health Local Implementation Team and the Somerset Teenage Pregnancy Partnership Board.

- There are currently more than 15 organisations involved in the Somerset Condom Card scheme, all of them working with young people. These include:

Mendip Primary Care Trust

Somerset Coast Primary Care Trust

Somerset County Youth Service

Connexions

Somerset Gay Health

Somerset Rural Youth Project

South Somerset Primary Care Trust

Taunton Deane Primary Care Trust

Yeovil College

Strode College

Robert Barton Trust

Yeovil Foyer

Yeovil Youth Enquiry Service

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