Huddersfield Technical College: Choices Centre Gets National Recognition

The Choices Centre Project at Huddersfield Technical College is the winner of the 2007 Pamela Sheridan Award for excellence in Sex and Relationships Education (SRE). The Choices Centre provides SRE to students including a sexual health service and a support and advice service. The project will receive a £1,000 prize.

Since it started in January 2005 the Choices Centre has worked closely with the college to integrate specially tailored RASHE (Relationships and Sexual Health Education) sessions into tutorials. These sessions have made students feel more comfortable seeking advice at the on-site clinic. All classroom sessions are evaluated by young people - and sessions are structured to reflect their needs. 

Both the education sessions and the on-site services are delivered by College Sexual Health Nurse; Glynis Collins, whose role is jointly funded by the college and local Primary Care Trust. Up-take of the service is high - currently more than 150 young men and 60 young women regularly accessing the service. Glynis notes that the uptake of service often increases following the RASHE sessions. The high proportion of young men accessing the service is also seen as a particular success.

One of the project's main aims is to stop students leaving education because of an unplanned pregnancy. As a direct result of the work of the Choices Centre the number of female students leaving the college due to pregnancy has been dramatically reduced.

The Choices Centre has also developed excellent working relationships with other agencies. It has built strong links with specialist sexual health providers in the area as well as the Drugs Action Team, specialist mental health services and HIV services.

The Choices Centre works with students from a range of backgrounds and ethnicities. It has achieved particular success with young Asian men who were concerned about their lack of sexual health awareness. Glynis has worked on a one to one basis with some of the young Asian men in college. This has made it easier to have frank discussions about sexual health. Some of these students now want to work with fellow students and educate them in sexual health.

Terri Ryland, Director of Practice Development, fpa said: "The Choices Centre Project identified gaps in the SRE programme and worked with Huddersfield Technical College to fill them. What started out as a simple condom distribution scheme has developed through hard work and constant innovation into an excellent sexual health service."

Glynis Collins, Choices Centre Sexual Health Nurse at Huddersfield Technical College commented, "When I came to the college just over two years ago, myself and the occupational health nurse shared a vision and a passion to make this service work and become a reality. It is brilliant to be recognised nationally and I hope other colleges will be encouraged to adopt a similar approach to providing college-based sexual health services for students".

Contact: Glynis Collins, College Sexual Health Nurse