HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust is calling on young people in the Bristol area to have their say in local sexual health services and resources for young people. The charity is looking for people between the ages of 13 and 19 to get involved in its SHARP youth team, a group of young people from across the city that works with local organisations to improve young people’s relationships and sexual health.
The group, which is run by Terrence Higgins Trust and funded by Bristol City Council, works together with 4YP, the local relationship and sexual health service specifically targeted at young people aged 13 to 24. The service covers a range of issues including sexual orientation, contraception, peer pressure and abusive relationships.
The SHARP group meets fortnightly and takes part in a number of activities, such as creating posters and promotional material, creating sexual health tool kits using digital media, talking to young people at local festivals, including Brisfest, and organising sexual health road shows. The team is particularly looking for young people who want to get involved in its plans for this year’s road show, where the team will be creating their own ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ event for young people, inspired by the popular Channel 4 show.
Verriin Kaur, aged 18, who has been a member of the SHARP team since February 2011, said: “Young people often feel more comfortable discussing some aspects of sex with people closer to their own age than they do with their teachers or parents, particularly when it comes to issues like contraception or ‘sexting’. That’s why I joined the SHARP team – I wanted to help raise awareness of sexual health and help other people my age to have a positive attitude to sex and relationships. Being part of the team has also been a really fun way develop new skills outside school. We’re always doing different things, from talking to other young people, to organising events and creating posters.”
Carrie Ford, from Terrence Higgins Trust’s centre in Bristol, said: “Teenagers can be an honest and powerful influence on the way the city talks to its young people about relationships and sexual health. By bringing together young people, the SHARP team can develop information that suits their peers and shape local services and resources to have the maximum impact. Joining our team is not only fun, it is also a great way to get a breadth of experience, from organising events to working as part of a team; experience which will help any young person as they prepare for the world of work beyond their school years.”
Janet Maxwell, Bristol City Council’s Director of Public Health said: “SHARP gives young people a real voice on the topics that they feel passionate about. They not only get to influence NHS and council projects that are happening around the city but they get high quality training to give them the confidence and skill to help others their age. It’s an amazing thing to be involved in and we love working with them.”
Anyone aged 13 to 19 can register now to be part of the SHARP youth team by contacting Carrie Ford in Terrence Higgins Trust’s Bristol Office on firstname.lastname@example.org, calling (0117) 955 1000 or texting 07826 867255