Thursday, 23 June 2011

22nd June - my big day

For two reasons;

Firstly I was appointed as Chief Executive of Brook which is an absolute privilege and an honour. I am really looking forward to working with colleagues, partners and stakeholders.

And Brook held our first ever joint parliamentary reception at the House of Lords with the FPA ( Brook and FPA recently announced a formal collaboration to ensure we make the greatest difference for those we serve. I am really grateful to Brook's President Baroness Massey of Darwen and FPA's President Baroness Gould of Potternewton for hosting the reception which was a wonderful opportunity to see friends, colleagues and partners who make such a difference to sexual health.

Public Health Minister, Anne Milton spoke and confirmed that sexual health is an important issue for the Government. She also reminded us that it is always the squeaky wheels that get oiled, and that constituency MPs need to be influenced - get writing and contacting them about the importance of sexual and reproductive health.

So I urge you, the majority who support people's sexual rights to get your voice heard, in a non squeaky way to make sure the views of the majority are the wheels that are oiled. We as the majority who support sex and relationships education, who trust young people, who are pro-choice and want people to be able to enjoy and take responsibility for their sexual health need to take heed of Anne's message. It is important not to be complacent or take those rights for granted because the small, but vocal, minority are ensuring that MPs, Ministers and other decision makers are hearing their views. Just look at Hansard and the increasing number of questions for evidence.

We have to ensure our support for contraceptive and reproductive choice, sex and relationships education and positive sexual rights is heard loud and clear - from Brook's perspective that means making sure young people get evidence based, accurate and factual information, skills development in education, as well as clinical services and support.

Also speaking at our reception was Gabriel Scally, regional director of public health for the SW who urged all of us to make Director's of Public Health our allies as responsibilities for sexual health move to Local Authorities; Ian and Carol, parents involved in FPA's Speakeasy Programme told how the programme had helped make a real difference to the way they communicate with their children about relationships and sex; and Brook's Sex: Positive campaign volunteers Lucy, Chris and Gloria told the negative attitudes about young people and sex have to change (see and why we must support the sex: positive campaign. All the speeches inspired and inspiring.

The reception was a wonderful celebration of all that is good in sexual health work and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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