29 September 2020
By Tom Collins
Last week saw the launch of Ireland’s first Sexual Health Hub, in Cork. This new initiative, spearheaded by the Sexual Health Centre, aims to make sexual health information more accessible to youth in communities across Cork City and County.
The Sexual Health Hubs will be the first point of contact for many young people, enabling them to access information leaflets on sexual health topics (e.g. contraception, relationships, sexually transmitted infections) and staff who are equipped to signpost to specific sexual health services. Free condoms and lube will be available at Hub locations where appropriate, with youth seeking to access condoms required to watch a condom demonstration video via a QR code.
The Hubs will create a safe, familiar, and accessible way for young people to avail of sexual health information, and provide a solution to the limited reach of current sexual health specific services.
Denis Leamy, Chief Executive of Cork Education and Training Board noted that “Cork ETB welcome the opportunity to support this innovative programme. Facilitating the collaboration of organisations that support young people is crucial in providing the required support directly to the community at a local level. By working together these organisations ensure equitable access to supports”.
The launch took place in association with Youth Work Ireland Cork (YWIC), the Sexual Health Centre’s first partner organisation. Based in ‘The Hut’ in Gurranabraher, YWIC run the Gurranabraher and Churchfield UBU youth project. The ‘UBU: Your Place, Your Space’ youth project provides out-of-school support to young people in the local Gurranabraher/Churchfield area to enable them to overcome adverse circumstances and achieve their full potential by improving their personal and social development outcomes.
As part of this new initiative, not only will sexual health information be available via the Hub stands, but the Sexual Health Centre will also provide ongoing information sessions and workshops throughout the year at Hub locations, to provide continued education on important sexual health topics.
The Sexual Health Centre delivered workshops to the youth at the UBU project in advance of the launch where the topic was well received:
“I got to ask questions about rumours and stuff you hear about but are not sure if they are true. I know now where I can go to ask more questions or get help if I need to”, said one young person who participated in a sexual health workshop.
YWIC youth worker Joe Curtin also commented: “I think it’s great for The Hut and the wider local community that we will have the first Sexual Health Hub in the city located here. Young people will be able to seek advice and information on a topic that is still sometimes not openly discussed in schools and at home. Young people will also have the opportunity to take part in sexual health workshops that are facilitated by specifically trained professionals throughout the year, and access the other services of the Sexual Health Centre more easily.”
Muire O’Farrell, Health Promotion Officer at the Sexual Health Centre, said “This is the first of many Sexual Health Hubs popping up across Cork. Our goal is to work in partnership with organisations across the city and county, e.g. youth groups, resource centres, outreach workers etc., to bring sexual health to youth from Castletownbere to Charleville, Kinsale to Kanturk”.
If you are interested in setting up a Sexual Health Hub, you can contact the Sexual Health Centre on firstname.lastname@example.org or 021-4276676 for further information. For information on Youth Work Ireland Cork, visit www.ywicork.com