Providing a lifeline for teenagers

Buckingham Youth Centre.'110210M-C449
Buckingham Youth Centre.'110210M-C449
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A VITAL drop-in service which helps young people with issues surrounding sexual health, drugs, and career advice is facing closure unless funding is found.

Buckingham town councillor, Lisa O’Donoghue, who is also a youth worker, only needs around £2,000 a year to keep the clinic open after Bucks County Council ceased its funding.

The drop-in is open for four hours every Tuesday at the youth centre and provides advice on sexual health, support on substance or alcohol abuse through a worker from Addaction, advice from Connexions and access to an NHS school nurse. It has been operating since November 2008 and currently has 88 young people on its books.

Although funding for Addaction and Connexions is secure, Mrs O’Donoghue takes the lead at the drop-in, which will have to close if funding for her position is not found.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Mrs O’Donoghue said if the drop-in was to close, young people would have no choice other than to travel to Aylesbury, which many of them were reluctant to do.

She said: “There are young people who don’t want to be referred onto counsellors – they want to have a chat with me and they have built up a relationship.

“We have all the new houses on Moreton Road and the new development on London Road and services are being taken away.”

As well as leading the drop-in, Mrs O’Donoghue’s role is to assess young people in a one-to-one session to see if it is a safe option to sign them up to the C-Card scheme, which entitles them to contraceptives, but only after they are given information on the law, ethics and expectations around obtaining condoms, pregnancy and chlamydia testing.

Although the Addaction worker delivers sessions in schools, many young people are wary of opening up with teachers around so it is important to be able to access the same worker at the drop-in in a confidential and safe surrounding for two hours per week.

Although other organisations want the drop-in to stay, Mrs O’Donoghue said, there seemed to be no funding available.