Brook Advisory Service Helpline for Young Men and Young Fathers

19 November 2005

Many Brook Centres have young men’s outreach workers whose job is to tailor sexual health information and run sessions that are designed to meet the needs of young men. These projects provide a welcoming atmosphere for young men, giving them the facts about sexual health and the support that will enable them to have good sexual health.

The Brook Centre in Milton Keynes runs a young fathers’ outreach project. Neil, one of the young fathers involved in the project, enjoys the sessions as it enables him to share his thoughts about the relationship between father and child.

“The Brook project helps young fathers by giving information about starting parenthood. It is also somewhere for them to go and talk when they need it,” said Neil.

Neil challenges the common misconception that unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are issues primarily affecting women, and believes that contraception is equally a man’s responsibility.

“Lots of men think the pill is the easy option, but women can still get pregnant or catch a sexually transmitted infection while on the pill, “ said Neil. “As a man, if you get chlamydia and it is not treated properly it can stop you from having a family in the future”.

On the subject of whether boys and young men have different needs to women when it comes to sexual health services, Neil commented:

“Men and women are very different, so sexual health services should be different for each gender”.

This view is echoed by David, the outreach worker at Brook in Milton Keynes who runs the young fathers’ project. According to David the young men he had contact with expressed a preference for sessions with no women present:

“Some have said they are less comfortable talking about certain things while women are present, especially when they go into details,” said David. “Boys and young men are often uncomfortable talking about their fears and concerns and talking in a male only setting has its advantages. In addition, many boys and young men are unaware of the services and support available, and targeting services specifically at young men creates a positive message”.

David feels that one of the challenges in reaching boys and young men is that they can be more difficult to access as well as to engage. There is also a need to find a common interest such as music or sport for young men who are reluctant to chat or attend educational sessions. David’s young fathers’ project attracts men by offering skill-based sessions and providing free condoms.

Brook understands that boys and young men may feel embarrassed about seeking help about their sexual health and in addition to the local projects for boys and young men, Brook also offers a confidential Young People’s Information Service that can be contacted either online or via a free-phone helpline.

THE BROOK HELPLINE: Young people under 25 can contact the free helpline for information, support, and details of local services, 0800 0185 023 9-5 Mon to Fri

THE ONLINE ENQUIRY SERVICE: Young people under 25 can send a confidential enquiry online via Ask Brook at http://www.brook.org.uk/content/M1_askbrook.asp, and receive a password protected reply.

 

(adapted from the Brook website)

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