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Clinic offers ear for teenage troubles

PUBLISHED: 13:12 04 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:37 07 July 2010

A confidential clinic for students to discuss teenage concerns ranging from pregnancy worries to exam stress has been launched at Fakenham High School.

A confidential clinic for students to discuss teenage concerns ranging from pregnancy worries to exam stress has been launched at Fakenham High School.

The school's weekly drop-in health centre was created after older students said they could feel uncomfortable talking to teachers or parents, or put off by familiar faces at the NHS clinic in the town.

Teachers, governors and parents joined with health professionals to set up the scheme, which runs every Tuesday lunchtime at the Field Lane building.

Students can engage in group discussions with a youth worker about drugs, family or emotional issues - or take a private one-to-one appointment with a professional school nurse.

But an important element is to provide advice on relationships, sex and contraception - carried out within strict guidelines - as part of an NHS drive to improve the sexual health of the county's youngsters.

Deputy headteacher Andy Williams said student feedback had been positive and there were plans to widen the scheme to the Fakenham College site on Wells Road by the end of the academic year.

“We wanted to set up a situation with someone the students could build a relationship with and come and see every week,” he said. “They can come here with anything that relates to their general health, but the important thing is that if we cannot resolve an issue we direct them to the appropriate service.”

NHS school nurse Alyson Ripley-Thomas, who will co-manage the clinic alongside a registered health worker, said: “There are a number of health concerns particularly relevant to young teens and, although extremely important, sexual health issues are only one of these.

“The clinic will provide relationship, sex and contraception support and advice, along with an opportunity for pupils to discuss issues such as stress, diet or sleep problems.”

Julie Hughes, NHS Norfolk's sexual health commissioning manager, said: “It is important that we help to make young people more aware of some of the risks associated with sexual activity, such as sexually-transmitted infections and teenage pregnancy. This clinic will give young people a safe and well-informed environment in which to access this information, and from a professional source.”

Year 11 student Lucy Roy, 16, said: “Basically, it is about students having the opportunity to talk to somebody who is not a teacher or parent - somebody they can build a relationship with and they can trust with anything they are unsure of.”

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