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An innovative sexual health drop-in centre launched in Bournemouth last year is having a positive impact and proving extremely popular among teenagers.
507@Boscombe, run by Dorset HealthCare, provides confidential sexual health advice and support for young people aged 13 to 25 in a modern, safe and non-judgemental environment.
It is based at The Cotton Exchange on Christchurch Road, and is led by Sexual Health Advisor Lynn Vatter and youth worker Ric Staddon every Friday from 3.30-5.30pm.
The service began back in September last year, to ease the pressure on The Junction - a nurse-led family planning and sexual health clinic based on Holdenhurst Road in Bournemouth, which has seen a steep rise in appointments.
Lynn said: “The main benefit of 507 is that young people can literally walk in off the street and have a chat with us in one of our private rooms without booking.
“The Junction can only offer 20-minute appointments, whereas we can provide up to 45 minutes if necessary. We can also give out free emergency contraception and pregnancy testing, and provide chlamydia screening.
“507 runs alongside The Junction, and we can fast track young people into clinics if their sexual health needs are more serious.”
Since its launch, more than 50 young people have visited 507 for help on a range of topics such as relationships, contraception, alcohol and risky sexual behaviour.
Ric has been a youth worker in Dorset for 22 years. He said: “It is great to see that young people feel confident enough to come and see us, and we have been really well received.
“We wanted to provide a sexual health service that enables youngsters to get what they need quickly without waiting, because that can often put them off seeking any support at all. We are also seeing young couples together, which doesn’t usually happen.”
You can find out more about 507@Boscombe by visiting www.b-townyouth.co.uk.
They are also on social media via Twitter (@BTownYouth1) and facebook.com/bmouthyouth.
You can also contact them directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01202 456105.
Further support is available at www.sexualhealthdorset.org and by calling the Sexual Health and Contraception Health Service appointments line on 0300 303 1948.