Monday, May 22, 2006

Sex worker rule sparks fears for city teens

Crew 2000 was founded by a group of comitted volunteers. It has retained the voluntary ethos, which characterizes those early years, and much of its direct work with young people continues to be undertaken by trained volunteers.

Pictured above some of Crew 2000's Volunteer's

Working with Crew as a volunteer you can gain:
  • Experience of working within an agency
  • The confidence to work with other people and open up with full support and supervision
  • Expand your knowledge of drugs or whatever else you want it to be expanded on
  • The opportunity to do free courses and training on personal skills, being a trainer, computing skills etc.· The experience of working on stalls and chill outs, at events, presentations, workshops, training otherpeople etc.
  • Your opportunity to have a voice and be able to shape the organisation.
  • Christmas, AGM, and other social nights out – be prepared, we’re still recovering from the last one!

These are just some of the opportunities within Crew, but basically what you do is up to you and whatever you do will be valued and appreciated –

Big thanks to CREW 2000 for all the great work they do with young people.

Sex worker rule sparks fears for city teens

HEALTH chiefs have banned volunteers at an Edinburgh sexual health service from handing out condoms to under-16s, despite growing concerns about teenage pregnancies in the Lothians.

Staff at Crew 2000 say they have had to turn teenagers away because of a new ruling from NHS Lothian.

The news comes days after it was revealed that a third of 12 and 13-year-old school girls who fall pregnant in Scotland are living in the Lothians.

Crew 2000 is the most accessed free condom and sexual health service in the Lothians and had 600 visits from under 16s for condoms in 2005.

The agency relies heavily on 25 trained volunteers to provide its service, with only seven paid staff at its Cockburn Street base.

But a new NHS Lothian protocol, in force since May 1, forbids unpaid staff from serving condoms to under-16s.

NHS Lothian said today the decision had been taken in response to rising concerns about child protection issues.

The manager of Crew 2000 slammed the ruling which he said would have a major effect on the rate of teenage pregnancies in the Lothians.

Crew 2000 is one of 65 c:card, or condom card, points run by NHS Lothian where on average 17,000 individuals a year get free birth control.

John Arthur, manager of Crew 2000, said in the weeks since the ruling they had already been forced to turn away half a dozen under-16s.

He said: "This new regulation will not improve the rate of teenage pregnancies in the Lothians.

"In the two weeks since the protocol came into place we have turned away six or seven under-16s because there was no paid staff member present.

"Young people have to pluck up a lot of courage to come in the first place and making a service like ours less accessible will have a major effect."

The agency provides condoms to anyone from the age of 13, but Mr Arthur said all under-16s were given training from qualified staff, paid and unpaid, on the correct use of condoms.

They were also offered advice to ensure they were not having sex against their will.

"A big part of our staff are volunteers, who get thorough training and are vetted to the highest standard.
"Anyone giving condoms to under 16s has been with us for at least a year and trained in confidentiality and sexual health."

He added: "Our service is highly valued by the young folk. They appreciate the non-clinical, non judgemental and friendly approach, with opening times that are convenient for them."

Edinburgh councillor Jim Lowrie, a former Liberal Democrat spokesman for education at the city council, said: "This is a very retrograde step that will promote a rise in teenage pregnancies in the long term.

"A lot of young people don't want to approach their own GP, whereas voluntary services have the confidence of the young people."

Dr Alison McCallum, director of public health at NHS Lothian, said: "Our aim is to offer best practice by providing training and in-depth assessment to paid staff members to ensure that under-16-year-olds are protected in relation to serious issues such as child protection.

"There are many capable volunteers, however many operate on a temporary basis and may not have the skills and experience of paid members of staff.

"The introduction of the protocol is to ensure the safety and protection of under-16-year-olds in relation to child protection issues and to ensure their welfare through contact with suitably trained people."

Source:Edinburgh Evening News

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