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TEXT SERVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE EXTENDED

October 25, 2004 9:00 AM

A MOBILE phone service, which helps young people access information about sexual health services for them, has been so successful, it's being extended across Glasgow.

The Text4U service was originally set up by NHS Greater Glasgow and H4U Teen Health to give young people living in the East End information about local sexual health services via their mobile phones.

Thanks to the success of that pilot, NHS Greater Glasgow, in partnership with Caledonia Youth, will be extending the service to the rest of the city.

From November 1, 2004, young people across the Glasgow City Council area will be able to use the service.

Julie Dowds, Health Promotion Officer with NHS Greater Glasgow, said: "The great response we've had to the pilot service in the East End shows that this is a much needed and valued service for young people.

"In the initial pilot we had 418 requests to the service for information about a range of relationship and sexual health issues and we're hoping that by extending this service to the rest of the city boundary, we will be able to encourage more young people to access information about the health issues that affect them."

The service will be promoted via bus advertising and youth workers will be demonstrating how the service works to young people across the city via youth clubs, community groups, street work etc.

Harder to reach groups, such as young people leaving care and those who have been excluded from school or do not attend youth groups, will also be targeted as part of the campaign.

So how does it work?

Julie explained: "The service enables users to text a number if they have a query about where to get help and advice on subjects such as relationships, sexuality, pregnancy, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and rape.

"All the young person has to do is text a key word on a subject that interests them to 07781 488591 and information on services and contact numbers will then be automatically sent back to them.

"The automated service is entirely confidential they don't need to give us any details - it's completely anonymous."

Julie revealed that discussions with young people had shown that many are too embarrassed to ask for information about relationships and sexual health. Many others simply don't know where to go.

She said: "This service aims to make it easier for them to get in contact with the right services when they need it most. "

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:
H4U Teen Health is a young person's health service for Eastern Glasgow.

Caledonia Youth is the national organisation for young people in the field of sexual health.

The service works in two ways:
* To obtain information about local and city centre services for them, young people should text a keyword and a place name to the service, eg pregnancy govan. Information about where to go for advice and help will be sent back to them;
* To obtain definitions of a word, they text in the word and the definition will be sent back to them, eg puberty, STI etc.

It costs the price of a normal text message to access the service.


Press enquries:  0141 201 4429

www.nhsgg.org.uk

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