Sexual Health High on the Agenda at E2E Provider ‘Biscom’ in Birmingham

Up to one hundred 16-19 year olds go through Biscom's E2E programme in Birmingham each year. The programme operates on a rolling basis - such that every Monday new learners are welcomed.

Each young person is assigned to a mentor and signs a confidentiality agreement. This explains that discussions with their mentor are confidential, and also explains the organisation's duty of care should a child protection case arise.

The programme begins with a 4 week induction and runs for 16-18 weeks in total. Glenn Nicholl runs the sexual health session once a fortnight to groups of 12 students as part of their induction.

The sessions explore topical sexual health issues particularly pregnancy choices and relationships, and are often a trigger for personal issues to emerge:

"Often after a session a young person will hover around, packing their bags up extra slowly. Then they will ask me a question about something 'they didn't quite understand' and it turns out they have a pressing personal issue. This issue is frequently that they or their girlfriend are pregnant. They are in shock and they don't know what to do".

Glenn estimates that a couple of girls become pregnant out of each group. Typically, one girl will go on to continue their pregnancy and the other to terminate.

Young people are referred to the local Brook and GUM services so that they can access professional support and counselling.

Glenn admits: "sometimes running the sexual health sessions feels like opening a can of worms", but describes how being able to tell their mentor about issues such as relationship worries and pregnancy have been hugely valued by the young people.

Contact: Glenn Nicholl
E-mail: glenn.nicholl@biscom.org.uk