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

In light of national guidance concerning coronavirus (Covid-19), the opening times, appointment availability and sexual health services offered at GP surgeries, pharmacies and specialist sexual health clinics may have changed. Further information about services and opening times:

Unity Sexual Health: or ring 0117 342 6900

Brook Bristol: or ring 0117 929 0090.

Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality.  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 of pressure, discrimination and violence.

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Training and workforce support

We can provide a broad range of training and workforce support for those working with children, young people and vulnerable families and adults.  This training and workforce support is almost always fully subsidised.  We try, wherever possible, to tailor the training and support provided to meet the needs of the professionals, teams or organisations requesting support.  For more information email


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 very 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 name of the new specialist sexual health service covering South Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset.

It provides free confidential sexual health services on a drop-in or appointment basis within South Gloucestershire and surrounding areas.  Some clinics are specifically (or especially suited to) for young people.

To make an appointment or to speak to someone for advice phone 0117 342 6900 or visit for information on sexual health services in the South Gloucestershire area.

For those seeking more generic advice and information, Brook, the national young people's sexual health and wellbeing charity, is a great place to start, regardless of whether you are a professional, parent or carer.

Mind You is our local information, advice and support website for young people, with pages for parents and carers.  Their pages about relationships and sexual health are great places to signpost a young person to for reliable, factual information and links to a range of support services, both local and national.

Planned Parenthood, although an American website, is packed full of really helpful information for parents about talking to their children about all aspects of relationships and sexual health.

From September 2020 Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) will be 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 will be covered.

For parents and carers wanting to feel more confident supporting their children and young people's development and knowledge at home Big Talk Education offer support for parents around age-appropriate RSE, with a really good FAQ section.

For parents and carers with teenage children the Rise Above website is packed full of great content and engaging videos on things like; friendship, body image, puberty, consent, relationships and sex

All secondary schools have a weekly Public Health Nurse drop-in clinic.  Young people can talk confidentially to a public health nurse in their school about all aspects of relationships, sexual health and contraception.  Many public health nurses also provide the Council's free condom distribution scheme called C.Card (see information below).

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 give you confidential information about sexual health, pregnancy and abortion.  They provide contraception, including emergency contraception (known by some as ‘the morning after pill) up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Young people under the age of 18, including those aged 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 (the morning after pill)

If someone has had unprotected sex and wants to reduce the risk of becoming pregnant they will need to use emergency hormonal contraception (the morning after pill).  This is available free from almost all local pharmacies to those aged 24 and under (including under 16s). 

Find information about your nearest pharmacy providing free emergency contraception. 

Emergency hormonal contraception is also available free for people of any age from your GP surgeries and all Unity sexual health clinics.  Emergency hormonal contraception should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex but can be taken up to 5 days after.  If more than 5 days has passed since unprotected sex, you should still encourage someone to seek advice by visiting a Unity sexual health clinic or phoning 0117 342 6900.

Free condoms

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 19 to get access to free condoms, sexual health advice and signposting or referral to additional sexual health services.  You first need to register for a c.card which involves a consultation with a trained worker and will include learning how to use condoms safely. The C.Card scheme is available at many schools, all SGS (South Glos and Stroud) College sites, in youth centres, youth housing organisations and some GP surgeries.

Professionals wishing to deliver the scheme can find more information via the scheme guidance document or by emailing


Sex should be enjoyable and must always be agreed to by everyone involved.  Giving consent means saying 'yes', freely, without being forced and without being concerned or worried about what will happen if you say ‘No’.  Consenting to one sexual act doesn’t mean you have consented to other forms of sexual activity.  Giving consent might also be done by using body language which shows the other person that you are enjoying yourself and are happy and comfortable, equally body language that shows you are not happy means you are not consenting.

It is important to remember that you always have a right to say no and/or to withdraw your consent at any time.  It doesn’t matter who the other person is, what your relationship with them is, how far you’ve gone with them or others in the past.

Physical, emotional and psychological pressure may be used to force someone else into sexual activity.  Just because someone does not hold you down and make you engage in a sexual act against your will or if you do not say ‘no’, it does not mean you have consented.

Any sort of sexual contact without consent is illegal, whatever the age of the people involved.

If consent is not given (to any sort of sexual activity) then this is classed as rape or sexual assault.  This can include sexual touching, oral, anal or vaginal sex with a penis or with any other type of object.

Sexual violence and abuse

Hurting someone, using threatening or manipulative behaviour, controlling someone, or forcing someone to do something they have not agreed to is not legal or acceptable, whether in a relationship or not.  If you or someone you know has experienced this type of abuse or violence please report it and get help.

Call 999 if a crime is happening now or you or someone is in immediate danger.


Safelink provide independent support for anyone (women, men or children) who have been the victim of rape and sexual abuse across the whole of Avon and Somerset area.  You do NOT have to report to the police to access their services.  They also provide women's mental health and domestic abuse support services.



SARSAS (Somerset & Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse support) is a support service for people who have experienced sexual violence at any point in their life.

Women and girls call 0808 801 0456

Office hours:
Monday and Friday, 11am to 2pm
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 6pm to 8.30pm

Men and boys call 0808 801 0464

Office hours:
Monday, 11am to 2pm
Tuesday, 6pm to 8.30pm

Kinergy counselling service

Kinergy is a registered charity offering counselling up to 24 weeks, group work and a monthly support group to men and women who are survivors of sexual abuse and rape.  Based in Kingswood, Kinergy works with people from the surrounding areas - predominantly South Gloucestershire and Bristol, people travel from as far as Bath and North East Somerset. 

Kinergy has over 20 years of experience in providing specialist trauma informed counselling.  They recognise the deep and far reaching effects of sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse.  There is a deep understanding of how sexual abuse and childhood sexual abuse can affect all areas of a person's life and the aim is to provide a safe, accepting and supportive environment, where people can come to terms with the past, enjoy the present and look forward to the future.

Kinergy also provide counselling through the iaptus referral pathway (NHS) as a specialist counselling agency.

To find out more about these services call 0117 908 7712, email or visit

Everyone has the right to be treated with respect including in sexual relationships.  A wide range of confidential sexual health services are available in South Gloucestershire for all ages, sexualities and communities.  Visit

The Survivor Pathway is an online resource for anyone wanting to know more about specialist violence support services.  Visit