Condoms on offer in Suffolk

CONDOMS are freely available to youngsters in Suffolk, teenage pregnancy experts have said.Despite a claim that in some places of the country youngsters are resorting to using crisp packets and Clingfilm as contraception, huge efforts are being made to make sure that condoms are available to youngsters in Suffolk, if they want them at the places where they feel comfortable going.

CONDOMS are freely available to youngsters in Suffolk, teenage pregnancy experts have said.

Despite a claim that in some places of the country youngsters are resorting to using crisp packets and Clingfilm as contraception, huge efforts are being made to make sure that condoms are available to youngsters in Suffolk, if they want them at the places where they feel comfortable going.

Sharon Singleton, the county's teenage pregnancy co-ordinator spoke out after sexual health expert Peter Greenhouse, who was the country's first consultant in sexual health and set up the first integrated sexual health clinic in Ipswich, warned that there was a desperate need for improved Government funding to make contraception freely available.

Mr Greenhouse, who is now based at Bristol Royal Infirmary said: "The use of crisp packets and cling film is something anyone who has been working in sexual health for any period of time knows.

"The message about sexually transmitted diseases has got through to teenagers but they don't have the money to implement the advice."

He also called for better funding of sexual health clinics in a bid to help combat the growing numbers of sexually transmitted infections, particularly in the young.

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However in Suffolk Ms Singleton said there is a scheme to make sure youngsters know the importance of contraception and know where to get it.

A recent poster competition to promote safe sex showed that many youngsters have a good level of understanding of it.

The competition was won by Lowestoft school pupil Kate Dowdall.

Ms Singleton said: "One of the most pleasing aspects of the competition was the entrants level of understanding around the issues of safe sex. It's good to see the messages are getting out there."

Ms Singleton has been working in conjunction with other youth agencies including Connexions to promote the safe sex message.

Already youth workers and social workers are on board to provide information, advice and condoms at places like drop in centres where youngsters are likely to feel more comfortable going.

But GP practices are also joining the fight and it is hoped that many will have free condoms available for young people in addition to places like Family Planning Associations and GUM clinics.

Ms Singleton said: "Stowmarket health centre and Combs Ford surgery are working very hard to be young people friendly."

A website has also been set up specially aimed at youngsters to give them any advice, information, support and contact numbers they need.

The Young People's Sexual Health Website can be accessed at www.ypsh.net.

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