In our 2009 strategic framework we set out our vision, mission, and values, and our commitment to extend our reach and double the number of young people we help directly during the next decade.
We committed then to report annually on progress against the six key measures outlined below, each of which has been shown to influence young people’s sexual health.
Brook had contact with 301,527 young people during 2010/11. This is an increase of almost 40,000 since last year and sets us well ahead of our target to double our reach by 2019, meaning we are half way towards this target just two years into our 10-year strategic framework.
The Brook website received 634,902 visits by 493,785 visitors. Average time spent on the site has increased from two minutes two years ago to just over three minutes. Ask Brook responded to just over 25,000 enquiries from young people. This is a 52% increase on 2009/10, and reflects our investment in the development of Ask Brook’s technical infrastructure and capacity.
Here are a few examples of how we help young people through Brook Centres around the UK.
At Brook Blackburn, the outreach team for Blackburn with Darwen made contact with 18,936 young people, and the SHOUT (Sexual Health Outreach) team in Hyndburn Ribble Valley had 16,333 contacts. This overall total of 35,269 represents an increase in activity of 53% on the previous year.
Brook Bristol runs a LUSH – Love Ur Sexual Health – project to use innovative ways of working with small groups of vulnerable young people.
Brook Birmingham launched a personal development group, Work It Out, for young people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or unsure about their sexuality, which extends the use of a successful model developed by Brook Wirral.
The Brook Manchester education outreach team delivered an education programme to run alongside a hard-hitting theatre production to raise awareness sexual exploitation.
Brook Jersey is continuing to support youth club focus groups on sex and relationships, as well as working within the young offenders’ wing at HMP La Moye.
Brook London continued the Holla project, an innovative research project working with African and Caribbean boys and young men. From 2007 to 2011, 11% more boys and young men involved with the project accessed counselling.
Brook Pennine education outreach workers worked with volunteers who are recovering from addictions to deliver activities targeted at building self-esteem in young people.
Brook Liverpool continued to deliver the BiteSize Brook programme in schools, and strengthened and developed work in both faith and special schools.
Over 95% of young people taking part in BiteSize Brook thought it was “brilliant”, “great”, or “good”. In addition, over 96% of young people taking part said they were “very likely” or “likely” to remember what they had learned.
The clinic has noticed an increase in visits from young people at the schools involved in the events, proving the effectiveness of the programme.
Brook Jersey continues links with the local college and secondary schools, with visits to the centre and lessons led by Brook staff forming part of students’ Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education.
The Brook Bristol team continues to deliver training to professionals working with young people. This includes those working with boys and young men, and young people with learning disabilities, as well as foster carers and nurses.
Brook Birmingham runs outreach clinics in further education (FE) and sixth form colleges. This approach reaches more new clients, and a greater proportion of clients attend for advice earlier, relative to becoming sexually active, compared with the main city centre clinic. This gives young people a better opportunity to make healthy informed choices about sex.
The Sandwell and Dudley nurse outreach service provided clinical help to more vulnerable young people by taking the service into appropriate community locations.
Brook Wirral delivered education programmes in 90% of Wirral schools, and has begun delivering clinical services in schools as part of Wirral’s Health Services in Schools programme. In 2010/11, young people were involved in the development of a new programme – called Great Expectations – that focuses on issues of sexualisation.
Brook Highland experienced a 23% increase in numbers of clients travelling to the Centre from the Ross and Cromarty area, and an overall 12% increase in numbers of young people travelling from all areas outside Inverness City including remote and rural areas, relative to the previous year.
At Brook Burnley, schools can take advantage of Been and Seen visits, where they are shown around and introduced to Brook's work. In 2010/11 one school brought a whole year group, at different times, to meet Brook.
At the Brook Awards in March 2011, boy band JLS presented the Brook/JLS young person of the year award to Sufyaan Patel, 18, from Blackburn. Sufyaan has put in over 500 hours of voluntary work over a large range of different causes, including advising and educating young people. His work links across a range of public health issues including sexual health, substance misuse, abuse, bullying and homelessness. He has made a real impact in his community, and been a positive role model, encouraging other young people to get involved locally.
“I would like to sincerely thank Brook and JLS for rewarding, encouraging and recognising my volunteering. It’s an absolute honour. I would also like to thank Brook and Volunteer Centre Blackburn for their continued support, assistance and guidance.”
Brook Cornwall's young volunteers helped education outreach workers to deliver SRE sessions in schools and youth settings, and helped to recruit young people for Brook Cornwall's new user group, which has already identified a number of suggestions to make Brook services more young person friendly.
Brook Pennine have established accredited training for a group of volunteers, all of whom are recovering addicts, to enable them to deliver sessions in schools and informal settings, to raise awareness of the effects of alcohol and drugs and their impact on decision-making and behaviour.
Brook Northern Ireland won the award for Brook Innovation of the Year award for their work placements project. The award reflects the positive work carried out by all staff with work, school and university-based placements that are offered at Brook Northern Ireland. A number of members of staff have been recruited to work at Brook Northern Ireland after their placement.
Brook Liverpool collected feedback from young people following work by the education team. The feedback included:
“Allowed pupils to access services they would not know about outside of school and even be ‘brave’ enough to access. All members of Brook were extremely professional.”
“We learned a lot from the Brook about periods and being fertile. It’s good the way they can come here instead of young people getting the bus to town.”
“The Brook are great to us. Before Brook came into school I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else.”
“It’s good, people wanting to know about us and help.”
“I enjoyed learning about my body, and how to be safe.”
“I liked learning about how to have a nice relationship.”
“I learned the most on sexually transmitted infections and I thought they taught us very important information.”
|A client questionnaire was carried out in Brook Burnley, where young people were invited to mark the following statements from 1 (strongly disagree) to 10 (strongly agree). The average scores out of 10 are shown.|
|I felt comfortable and welcome in using the Brook Centre||9.6|
|Since using Brook I think I have a better understanding of the issues relating to my sexual health and contraception||9.4|
|Since using Brook I think I am much more able to make an informed choice about sex, relationships, and contraception||9.5|
Client feedback on educational outreach work from Brook Northern Ireland included:
“Really good and useful, would like to do it again.”
“The class was brilliant – I was made very aware of various diseases.”
“Found it useful and good to know there’s support out there.”
“I thought it was very good and learnt a lot, had a laugh.”
The Brook Manchester clinic service is now open seven days a week offering more opportunities for clients to use the Centre.
We are collecting young people’s stories and creative work to illustrate some of the ways Brook touches young people’s lives. We asked some of our Campaign Volunteers to talk about their time at Brook, and share some of their material. All stories are shared with the permission of the young person.
“… I’ve also fallen in love with Brook as an entity with such attuned morals and values that seems so difficult to find with other charities. I’m going to miss this stage of knowing Brook but I also welcome whatever the future may bring to us. Brook is like a Henry Hoover – it’ll suck you in entirely, and it’ll have a smile on its face while it’s doing it.”
“Brook has given me the platform to grow and experience things in ways which I think no other workplace will be able to offer.”
“Brook gave me an opportunity when others were not willing to listen to young people, and this is something I will never forget.”
“Words cannot express how thankful and grateful I am for this opportunity, for the fabulous team that I worked with, for those who supported me and encouraged me to continue, for those young people who needed a campaign within sexual health which led us to create Sex:Positive, and for those who doubted and ridiculed my choice for volunteering with Brook.”
“When I went to events like the launch of Living your life I found out that there weren’t many places that know how to, or feel comfortable teaching disabled young people SRE. I have also found out that young people don’t know much because their education wasn’t as up-to-scratch.”
“When we first started I questioned whether I could actually complete it because I've always had a tendency to start something and never finish it, and I have had people tell me I wouldn’t finish my time at Brook, well I did so the laugh is on you… We had fun creating this positive force for change because it had all our ideas and thoughts inputted in to it.”
“It has been challenging, rewarding and awesome – the first two of which I hoped for, and the last being a truly great bonus. I am exceptionally proud of the successes of the Sex:Positive campaign that I achieved as an individual and as part of a team.”
At the end of the 2009/10 financial year the previous government tried to make sex and relationships education (SRE) a statutory part of the national curriculum through the Children, Schools and Families Bill. Disappointingly these clauses were removed from the Bill before the election in April 2010.
In response to this, and the changing climate, Brook’s Campaign Volunteers decided to make a stand against the fact that they received very poor, or very little, education about sex and relationships. They also felt that, while there have been some improvements in the provision of sexual health services, our culture generally is very negative towards sex, and particularly young people and sex.
The volunteers presented their views at the Brook parliamentary reception in November 2010. You can share them at: http://www.youtube.com/user/besexpositive
The Campaign Volunteers worked with Brook to create the Sex:Positive campaign to generate a movement of supporters for change. Boy band JLS made a video pledge of support for the campaign, and you can check campaign progress at: www.sexpositive.org.uk or by following our social media channels on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube. You can view the volunteers' creative work on this subject at: http://www.youtube.com/user/besexpositive
Brook’s volunteers represented Brook at the Positive for Youth Summit in March 2011 which united young people with government ministers and experts and leaders from across the voluntary, public and private sectors to discuss responding to the issues that young people face.
Throughout the year Brook responded to the following consultations:
Brook continued to be a member of the Sex Education Forum as well as the Voice for Choice coalition. We also continued to work on the SHout Loud project (Sexual Health Out Loud www.shoutloud.org.uk), together with five other partner organisations.
It was with great sadness that at the end of the year Brook was forced to close its services in Stockton-on-Tees at the end of the 2010/11 year.
Brook Stockton had been running only a relatively short time – three years – but in that time had reached a growing number of the most vulnerable young people in a particularly deprived area.
Sadly, a decision was taken to provide young people’s services as part of mainstream services and Brook closed.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the dedicated staff at Brook Stockton who made a real difference to the lives of the young people they supported. While Brook is no longer in Stockton, we hope some of what we learned and taught there about delivering young people-friendly services still remains (and we will watch their sexual health outcomes for young people with interest).
Brook Cornwall recruited a Boys and Young Men's Worker to work directly with boys and young men to improve sexual health knowledge, increase use of the service, and support an information-sharing network of local professionals to raise awareness of the need to address boys' and young men’s issues and foster effective practice.
Brook London ran a Sexual Bullying Project to raise awareness of the issue and build capacity of staff to support young people, including training for professionals.
Brook East of England has received funding to pilot an Alcohol Brief Intervention Project which has highlighted that the major issue for young people in Milton Keynes is binge drinking at weekends. As a result, staff are now delivering some targeted work in three schools that incorporates topics such as self-esteem, assertiveness, and safer sex.
Brook Wigan and Leigh moved to new premises that are more accessible and attractive to young people, have an increased number of clinical staff, and longer hours of opening, leading to more young people attending the service.
Brook Blackburn’s work with sexually exploited young people continued with opportunities for partnership working with Barnardos, Lancashire Constabulary, CROP (Coalition for Removal of Pimping) and Blackburn with Darwen Children’s Social Care.
Brook Wigan and Leigh have worked with Barnardos, the police and the local council to address issues of child sexual exploitation in the borough.
Through our campaigns and media work Brook strives to improve the way the media reports issues relating to young people. Sometimes we are able to take the initiative and instigate positive reporting of young people, but all too often our role is to provide the balance, correct the inaccuracies and advocate for young people in the face of negative and judgmental media coverage.
Here is a flavour of some of the stories we influenced during the year.
Sex and Relationships Education and the Children, Schools and Families Bill
April 2010 www.independent.co.uk/news/education/
It was disappointing for everyone who is passionate about the education and wellbeing of young people when the government’s intention to make SRE a compulsory part of the curriculum was scuppered as part of a last-minute political deal which saw the relevant clauses in the Children, Schools and Families Bill removed.
In responding to the news, we partnered with the UK Youth Parliament to ensure that a young person’s voice was given space in the debate which, for too long, has neglected this.
Brook has always believed that young people are entitled to receive good quality sex and relationships education, and our Say Yes to SRE campaign is the latest to support this work.
Launch of condom range: www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/
Brook article: www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/3136935/Boyband
It's not easy to draw high profile support for young people’s sexual health. All too often it's considered too risky or taboo a subject for a famous person to be associated with. In September 2010, boy band JLS put their heads above the parapet, launching a range of condoms and visiting Brook to hear young people’s views of how to improve sexual health.
The group pledged its support to our Big issues… campaign www.brook.org.uk/big-issues-dont-have-to-be-a-big-deal and held round table meetings with groups of young people, listening carefully to their needs and opinions. The involvement of such high profile supporters attracted a great deal of media attention and we were able to help young people tell their own stories to the press.
When we think of ‘the media’ we often overlook the significant and growing field of online opinion expressed through blogs, social media and other websites, but these are increasingly powerful and often have a wider reach than traditional media.
In October 2010, Brook’s Chief Executive, Simon Blake, took part in Battle of Ideas to discuss the country’s approach to teenage pregnancy policy. Called 'Too much, too young: why is policy obsessed with teenage mums?' speakers took a range of views about teenage pregnancy and how to better support young people.
Brook believes that a focus on teenage parents must continue, particularly in the face of public spending cuts, and Simon’s views were expressed through the blog that accompanied the series of lectures.
Much is made of the ‘sexualisation’ of children, and concern in government, the media and the general public is demonstrated through regular debate and discussion about how to prevent it. In January 2011 Panorama looked at the issue and interviewed Brook’s Chief Executive, Simon Blake.
Avoiding the hand-wringing and sensationalism which is the hallmark of much of the debate, Simon focused on Brook’s belief that in order to understand, process and navigate the sexual imagery and attitudes which so often make up the world around them, young people must be given the tools, skills and information to do so.
Teenage pregnancy rates in England and Wales are at their lowest rates for 30 years, yet the myth that they are rising persists. Brook works hard to ensure rates are accurately reported, and spokespeople can often be found correcting misinformation.
Our statement, that we must continue to keep sexual health and teenage pregnancy as policy priorities in order to continue to see rates fall, particularly in the current economic climate, was picked up by some media and it’s important that we keep reminding people that this is the case. You can find more information on teenage pregnancy here. http://www.brook.org.uk/information/facts-and-figures-/teenage-conception
It is always disappointing to see the resurgence of a news story that is based in conjecture, prejudice and misunderstandings, but in March 2011 The Christian Institute published a report full of out of date, out of context information about sex education resources, simply designed to shock and dismay. Too much, too young claimed that SRE resources, including some of Brook’s and FPA’s publications, were inappropriate for young people.
Our response, which was reflected in the resulting press coverage, attempted to explain that children and young people have a right to age-appropriate education about sex and relationships, and also tried to cut through the myths to explain what good quality SRE really is. We will continue to work to educate the media, policy makers, professionals and parents to help them understand not only that SRE is vital, but also what it truly is.
Brook outreach education workers made contact with 144,502 young people in 2010/11.
Brook Highland took part in a pilot to deliver ‘Speakeasy’, an FPA evidence-based programme to help parents and carers speak to the young people in their care about sexual health matters.
Brook Sandwell and Dudley have operated a peer mentoring programme for young people so that they can positively influence other young people within their local communities.
All Brook Centres who were required to register their service with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have successfully done so.
All Centres eligible for assessment of You’re Welcome young person-friendly quality status achieved this award.
Jennifer Hill of Brook East of England won the Employee of the Year Award for work on the Sex Express project and the development of a specific programme for ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) students.
Brook Wirral won two national awards – the FPA Pamela Sheridan Award for Innovation in SRE, and the GSK/King’s Fund Impact Award for the impact on community health via the combination of clinical, counselling and education provision.
These stories, used with the kind permission of the young people, tell of the very personal circumstances that bring a young person to Brook, and how they have experienced the Brook approach as part of their journey.
One of Brook's clients said she had told her story because;
“I had a great experience at Brook, and I am happy that my story can reach out to more people.”
“After attending an eight-week peer education course I worked with Brook closely using my own experiences to educate young people about the realities of being a young parent. I think there is often a huge stigma attached to being a young mum, and often stereotypes and assumptions are made, it seems and felt like society looks down at young parents. It can be challenging as a young mum to feel good and proud about parenthood and challenge these negative views.
“After getting involved with the outreach and education team at Brook Milton Keynes I felt empowered to use my own experience as a positive thing, and had the opportunity to make a positive contribution through peer education to the lives of others. I felt really supported by all the staff and not judged. For the first time I felt really good about myself and being a mum but also feel it gave me more of an identity as an individual. Peer educating really boosted my confidence and inspired, I suddenly realised I wasn't just another teen mum but I am a person like everyone else and I have the option of achieving and having a career. After completing some qualifications I now work on the education team at Brook myself and couldn't be happier.”
“I first came to Brook at 16, I had an amazing amount of support from Brook. Everyone that I spoke to was lovely and I couldn’t have spoken to more amazing people. With the advice given I delayed having sex until I had been with my partner for six months and I then used contraception. Over the years I had several amazing visits to Brook, I hardly ever had to wait a long time and when I did the receptionist was always very helpful. When I became pregnant I again had great support from Brook who informed me of my choices and made sure that I was happy with my choice to continue my pregnancy, again after birth Brook were great at supporting me in finding the right contraception. I now have two children and have had many visits to Brook and all have the same outcome – amazing, helpful people who have given me amazing advice when helping me to make the right choices for myself, and best of all contraception that is perfect for me! I am still with the same partner that I was with when I first needed to visit Brook and we are now planning our wedding. Thank you Brook for all of your amazing support over the years.”
“I joined Brook’s young mums' peer education programme earlier this year. The course was fun and I learnt a lot. Being on the course has helped me with my confidence and self esteem, particularly as I had just come out of an abusive relationship. Being with other young mums and Brook staff I felt safe and happy. With the skills gained from the course and with the help of Brook I have now gone on to work for Brook as a volunteer. I have volunteered for almost 300 hours teaching lessons and helping out with peer education.”
Under-18 conception rates are now the lowest they have been for almost 30 years. The 2009 teenage pregnancy statistics for England and Wales, published in February 2011, showed that rates for under-18s have fallen by 19% since 1998 (to 38.3 per 1,000 in 2009). In Scotland the figure was 37.2 per 1,000 (down from 40.2 per 1,000 in 2008). In Northern Ireland the rate of live births to under-20s was 21.8 per 1,000 in 2009. The rate of under-18 teenage conceptions in Jersey remains low at 20.1 per 1000 women in 2009.
Over the last ten years there have been considerable increases in the number of young people under 25 diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and that age group experiences the highest rates of STIs. However there has been a notable decline in some STIs in younger people in recent years.
In England diagnoses of gonorrhoea fell 8% in 15 to 19-year-olds and 1% in 20 to 24-year-olds between 2009 and 2010, while genital warts in 15 to 19-year-olds fell by 9% during the same period. Diagnoses of chlamydia remained stable despite increases in the number of tests performed. Northern Ireland data from GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics shows a 5% fall in diagnoses of chlamydia in under-25s between 2009 and 2010. Gonorrhoea diagnoses in under-20s fell by 22%. Comparable figures for 2010 for Scotland are not yet available.
To ensure that the general downward trend continues, prevention efforts such as improved SRE, easier access to sexual health services, and increased availability of testing must be maintained.