13 December 2021
By Mary Bermingham
The Sexual Health Hubs’ free period product initiative was launched in Clonakilty today by TD Holly Cairns. The Sexual Health Hub project was first launched in September 2020 by the Sexual Health Centre, as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The hubs are now being expanded – in terms of location and service provision – to ensure that period products are more accessible to young people across Cork City and County.
The Hubs project won this year’s Youth in Community Award at the Lifelong Learning Festival Awards in October this year for its innovation and unique multifaceted approach to youth needs across Cork. The Shack youth centre in Clonakilty now hosts the first Sexual Health Hub to include Free Period Products, with menstrual pads, tampons, and relevant information about periods and period products available for young people. The Sexual Health Centre team believe it is imperative to supply accurate, honest and inclusive information along with products so that young people can more easily engage in conversations about periods.
West Cork TD Holly Cairns stressed the importance of the resource for local youth:
“The Sexual Health Hub here in Clonakilty is a wonderful addition to the town that will help empower local youth with accurate information about their bodies and health. It also gives young people an opportunity to engage with staff who can explain about specific sexual health services that they otherwise wouldn’t hear about.”
“We know that access to menstrual products is a luxury that many do not have. So, it is very encouraging that as well as sexual health information and condoms, free period products are also now available to young people in West Cork, in an environment that is familiar and safe for them,” noted the Social Democrat’s Spokesperson for Social Justice.
Health Promotion Officer at the Sexual Health Centre, Muire O’ Farrell explained the need for youth-oriented services in relation to sexual health:
“Young people are often discouraged from taking care of their sexual health and wellbeing. We are committed to changing that through the Sexual Health Hubs by partnering with youth groups, outreach workers and resources centre across the county. The Hubs can provide a solution to the limited reach of current sexual health specific services in Cork.”
Cork City Councillor and Youth Officer for the Cork Education and Training Board (ETB) highlighted the exclusion experienced by rural youth in relation to health services:
“Young people in rural areas can be distanced from accessing vital services and information for their own personal health, development and wellbeing and so bringing these hubs to them is dexterous, direct and very welcome. They can be cut off from services because of geography and IT infrastructure in normal times, let alone in times of restrictions and lockdowns. The Cork Sexual Health Centre has been very innovative in responding to the health needs of young people in the city and county as part of their involvement in the UBU Your Place, Your Space funding scheme which is what we need youth services to continue to be.”
This initiative is funded by Cork ETB. 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.