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Drop in centre for teenagers

PUBLISHED: 00:16 20 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:04 03 March 2010

THE rates of teenage pregnancy in Britain are at an all time high but one area in Ipswich is tackling the problem head-on.

Surestart in the south east of Ipswich has opened the first evening drop-in centre for teenagers.

THE rates of teenage pregnancy in Britain are at an all time high but one area in Ipswich is tackling the problem head-on.

Surestart in the south east of Ipswich has opened the first evening drop-in centre for teenagers. They can come to meet, chat and get advice.

It is the first in the area to combine a meeting place with a safe environment to get the low down on contraception, relationships and other problems.

And because the teenagers have been involved from the start they have made the centre their own.

"It is really important to have some where like this as it is confidential," said Connie Summers, aged 15.

"We get advice about contraception and it is so much friendlier than the other place at Murrayfield. We can meet our mates at the same time. After this some of us go to a baby sitting course which is also organised by Surestart. We learn about safety and what to do if something goes wrong and then we take an exam at the end of eight weeks," said Anna Watchman, aged 15.

The teenagers also helped in the setting up of the centre with leaflet drops and even painting the kitchen at the centre on Clapgate Lane.

Sandra Shears, programme manager for Surestart in South East Ipswich said a lot of work went in to making it the right place for these teenagers.

"There has been a lot of background work. We carried out a survey on 164 teenagers asking them what they want when it comes to advice and how they want it delivered. It is important they are in an environment that they feel confident in," she said.

Every week so far the centre has had 25 to 40 teenagers attending and Sandra believes this shows just how desperately this was needed. Young parents are also welcome and the team is currently working to get a doctor to come along. There are also two midwives who currently work at the centre giving out confidential advice.

This is a holistic approach to a problem which has been out of the control of the medical and social care professions.

Sandra believes that by involving the teenagers at every stage and making the process one that involves the whole community then progress will be made.

"Our midwives who give family planning advice at the centre already work with Holywells High School and are hoping to work in other schools in the area.

"We also work closely with the Teenage Pregnancy Unit which helps to fund this project. We need to look at why it is they are not getting the advice they need. Also they need to be able to access the information when they need it. This lack of communication is one of the reasons we have such high rates of teenage pregnancy in Britain today.

"It is also important we work with the community as a whole. This is where the baby sitting course came in, it was what the parents in the area wanted and so we are working to help the whole community," she said.


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