Relationships and sexual health information and advice for professionals, parents and carers

For information about our specialist sexual health service provider's opening times visit the Unity Sexual Health website.

Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being.  It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free from coercion, discrimination and violence.

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Training and workforce support

To enquire about training and workforce support for those working with children, young people and vulnerable families and adults;

If you are interested in providing the C Card scheme in your setting in South Gloucestershire to provide young people with access to free condoms, we offer free C Card Training for professionals;

Our sexual health service provider unity Sexual Health provide training opportunities for professionals in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.  This includes free training aimed at professionals working with and supporting young people to have healthy and safe sexual relationships.  for more information visit Unity's professional development and training opportunities webpage. 

Safeguarding

Safeguarding the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults is everyone's responsibility.  Anyone who has concerns about the sexual behaviours or relationships of a child, young person or vulnerable adult should seek advice from South Gloucestershire Safeguarding.

There are a number of specialist support services for people who have experienced sexual assault, sexual violence or rape.  Their service and contact details appear later in this section.

The Law

The legal age of sexual consent is 16, regardless of a person's gender or sexual orientation.  The Family Planning Association has a detailed web page covering all aspects of the Law relating to sexual consent and sexual offences.

Access to advice, information and support

Unity Sexual Health

Unity Sexual Health is the specialist sexual health service provider covering all areas of South Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset.  They provide free and confidential sexual health services for all ages and sexuality's and this includes young people's clinics for under 25s.

To make an appointment with Unity Sexual health or to speak to someone for advice;

The Unity Sexual Health website provides details of when the telephone lines and clinics are open.

Brook

Brook, as part of the Unity Sexual Health Service, focus on providing free and confidential sexual health treatment, information and advice for young people aged 13 – 19 and have a clinic in Bristol.  

  • The Brook website offers help and advice on a range of topics and includes real stories which help to raise awareness of the unique challenges faced by young people.
  • Brook also provide free relationship and sex education (RSE) resources to support relationships and sex education which could be useful for professionals and also parents or carers.

If you are supporting a young person who thinks they may be pregnant, they will need to do a pregnancy test as soon as possible.

You can get a free pregnancy test kit from:

  • Some Unity Sexual Health clinics, including the Brook Young People’s clinic (For details check the clinics page).
  • Some GP surgeries can offer confidential free pregnancy testing – check with your GP surgery.
  • Test kits can also be purchased, including by those under 16 at supermarkets and pharmacies.

If the young person has had a positive pregnancy test, information is available about pregnancy options and support available on the Unity website.  They may also want to talk to their family, a trusted adult or friends for support. 

If a young person would like advice about pregnancy options, they can talk to someone confidentially at the Pregnancy Advisory clinic on 0345 872 5435 (7am-8pm daily). There is the option to complete an online booking form available from the Unity Sexual Health pregnancy options webpage to arrange to talk to someone.

Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE)

Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) is compulsory in all secondary schools.  The contents specified in the Government's guidance shows that a broad range of topics relating to healthy relationships, consent, contraception and sexual health is covered. A RSHE guide is available for parents.

School Nurse - all secondary schools in South Gloucestershire have a weekly School Nurse drop-in clinic.  Young people can talk confidentially to a school nurse about all aspects of relationships, sexual health and contraception.  School nurses can provide free condoms through the free condom distribution scheme called C.Card (see information below). 

  • Young people can contact a school nurse using the confidential Chat Health Service - text 07312 263093  (open Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm and charged at your usual rate). 

NSPCC and Childline

For parents and carers wanting to feel more confident supporting their children and young people’s development, the NSPCC, who are the UKs leading children’s charity, have a helpful webpage with advice on talking with young people about sex and relationships.

For parents and carers with teenage children the Childline website is packed full of great content and engaging videos on things like; friendships,  sexual and gender identitypubertyconsentrelationships and sex.

Stop it Now website

If you are concerned about a child or young person’s sexual behaviour the The Stop it Now website provides information and resources to help you understand if the sexual behaviour is appropriate for their age or not.  Each child or young person will develop in their own way, but there is a range of acceptable behaviours linked to a child’s age and stage of development

Mind You

Mind You is our local information, advice and support website for young people, with pages for parents and carers. 

Sexual health services in GP surgeries

Whether you are a young person (including under 16s) or adult, doctors and nurses at your local GP surgery can provide confidential information about sexual health, pregnancy and abortion and also provide contraception, including emergency contraception  and/or testing/treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

Young people under the age of 18, including those under 16, have the right to attend an appointment with a doctor or nurse without a parent or carer being present. They can also give their own consent to receiving sexual health and contraceptive treatment provided the doctor or nurse deems them to have met the Fraser Guidelines

Emergency contraception

If someone has had unprotected sex (no contraception used) or a contraceptive failure (burst condom, missed pills) and want to reduce the risk of becoming pregnant they will need to use emergency contraception.

Emergency hormonal contraception should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex to reduce the risk of becoming pregnant and can be taken up to 5 days (120 hrs) after.  The copper intrauterine device (IUD, also known as a copper coil) may be offered or an emergency hormonal contraception pill, depending on your situation and your preferences.     

Even if the unprotected sex was more than 5 days (120hrs) ago and a person wants to try and reduce their risk of becoming pregnant they should call Unity Sexual Health on 0117 342 6900 straight away.

Free condoms C.Card Scheme

South Gloucestershire operates a free condom distribution scheme called C.Card.  The C.Card scheme is a confidential service designed to enable those aged 13 to 24 to get access to free condoms, information about local sexual health services and support from a trained worker. .  The scheme is available to young people of all genders and sexualities and they don’t have to be sexually active to join the scheme – it is better for them to be prepared if they are thinking about having sex. 

To use the scheme they first need to register for a C.Card.  This involves a confidential appointment with a trained worker who will:

  • explain the scheme and how to use condoms safely
  • answer any questions a young person might have
  • give out free condoms and sachets of lubrication.  Also available are internal condoms or dams. 
  • give a C.Card that is a small plastic keyring card that has a unique number on it 

Our article on Sexual health information for young people lists the places in South Gloucestershire that provide the C.Card scheme.

Professionals interested in delivering the scheme please contact us by emailing: healthylifestyles@southglos.gov.uk

Consent

Sex should be enjoyable and must always be agreed to by everyone involved. Giving consent means saying 'yes' and with the freedom and capacity to make that choice, without being forced and without being concerned or worried about what will happen if you say ‘No’.

To find out more about consenting to sex, visit:

Sexual violence and abuse

Sexual violence is a term that is used to describe any sexual activity that happened without consent.   There are lots of different types of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse.  Anyone can experience sexual violence.   If a child, young person or adult has experienced any kind of sexual violence, it was not their fault and they are in no way to blame.  Help and support is available.     

  • If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.
  • Survivor Pathway is an online resource for anyone wanting to know more about specialist sexual violence support services in the South West. 
  • You can also find an extensive list of places to go to for help on our Domestic Abuse webpage.

These free and confidential local services listed below can help and support you. You don’t need to have reported the incident to the Police to use these services.

Safelink support for victims of sexual assault or rape

Safelink provide independent support for anyone (women, men, and children) who has been the victim of rape and sexual abuse across the whole of Avon and Somerset area including South Gloucestershire.  You do NOT have to report to the police to access this service.  

Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS)

SARSAS provides confidential support to people of all genders age 13+ in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & NE Somerset, North Somerset and Somerset, who have experienced rape or any kind of sexual assault or abuse at any time in their lives.  To find out more about this service:

Kinergy counselling service support for survivors of sexual abuse or rape

Kinergy is a registered charity offering specialist trauma informed counselling, group therapy and a support group to people of all genders age 18+, who have experienced any form of sexual abuse or sexual violence during their life. Services are offered to anyone who lives in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, BANES and North Somerset. 

To find out more about these services you can contact Kinergy: