Delivery of Sexual Health Education That Tackles Both Visible and Invisible Barriers


Delivery of Sexual Health Education That Tackles Both Visible

and Invisible Barriers

C. Farley, J. Heeney,

North Liverpool Primary Care Trust, So To Speak, Liverpool,


Objectives – Development and implementation of a Sexual

Health Education model that focuses on tackling the invisible barriers to Sexual

Health such as oppression, culture and self esteem.

Design and Methods – This model has been developed from

Youth and Community Work theory and practice as follows – Experiential Learning,

(Kolb and Fry); Developmental Group Work, (L. Button); the impact of oppression

and empowerment on behaviour, (P. Freire) and Learned Helplessness, (Selligman).

This method aims to acknowledge the broad range of influences on an individual’s

sexual health and to offer a pathway for behaviour change. It acknowledges the

impact the value base of the facilitator and the method used has on the

participants. It is based on the assumption that education is a two way process

and the group are best at identifying their own needs. Each group is worked with

over several sessions. During the initial session the facilitator introduces

activities that will encourage the group to express their needs in relation to

sexual health in order to shape the following sessions delivered to the group.

The group are encouraged to recognise their involvement in the programme through

reflection. In this way their sexual health knowledge is increased and the group

has been shown that their opinions and ideas have been valued. This means that

although the process remains the same, the content of each programme will be

tailor made for each group.

Results – It has been used to deliver Sexual Health

Education to groups of young people in Liverpool and Sefton since 2001. The

conception rate in Liverpool has fallen by 28% between 1998 and 2003, Sefton’s

conception rate has remained the lowest on Merseyside from 1998 to 2003. The

group work is very well received by young people in a wide range of settings

from very informal such as a local skateboard park to formal settings such as

Pupil Referral Units and an institute for young offenders. Young people have fed

back how they have felt listened to and told the facts and not lied to.

Conclusion – This way of working engages people in an

empowering way, taking their needs and wants into consideration. It offers them

control and values their opinion. It offers an experience that challenges

oppression and increases self esteem, two major invisible barriers to gaining

sexual health.

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