Developing Confident Conversations with Highlife Highland

Youth Development Officers and youth work staff from across Highland have been attending ‘Developing Confident Conversations’ training, delivered by Wave and NHS Highland’s Health Promotion team.

Before the training it was recognised that although youth workers are a key source of information for many young people, the levels of knowledge and confidence around sexual health varied from professional to professional. The main aim was to make sure all Youth Development Officers (a.k.a YDOs) had a basic level of training around these topics. However, the sessions also allowed space to share experiences and examples of good practice.

With a focus on how to have appropriate but meaningful conversations with young people about sexual health and relationships, the training sessions drew from Wave’s experience delivering sexual health education within Highland and NHS Highland’s experience in delivering training to teachers.

Dan Jenkins, Health Promotion Specialist – NHS Highland says: “Youth workers are a crucial source of support for the overall health of young people, and have a quality of relationship that allows sensitive and sometimes difficult life issues to be discussed openly. Sexual health and relationships epitomise the wide range of these conversations. It is reassuring to know that we have an increasingly confident and consistent approach across the region. We have built a crucial foundation for this and other initiatives that can nurture our young people to make appropriate, confident, positive and safe decisions about their current and future relationships.”

John Taylor, Area Youth Services Officer – Highlife Highland says: “We recognised that the offer to young people was varied across the Highlands. High Life Highland have a Youth Development Officer within every High School catchment area and by default were well placed to support strategic development of this project helping to give a strong foundation to having confident conversation with young people about relationships and sexual health. Utilising Wave’s and NHS Highland experience to develop and deliver this training, which allowed space for our own staff to bring forward their own varied experiences and share these with their peers in a safe and supportive space, enabled a real sense of collaborative training that was fun, included lots laughter, was engaging and exciting and that we were all journeying together to benefit young people no matter where they live in Highlands.”

Following the training sessions:

  •  94% said their knowledge around sexual health and relationships had increased;
  • 86% said their confidence around sexual health and relationships had increased;
  • 97% said they would be confident or very confident talking to young people about sexual health and relationships.

Comments from evaluation forms included:
“Learning about trends in Highland was very useful, so I am more aware/knowledgeable if a young person asks me something. Really interesting to learn about the online trends too.”

“Discussing what you would reply to the comments from young people was a useful activity.”

“The training was expertly delivered and I enjoyed it very much, particularly the fun exercises designed to offer insight into generally held views and test knowledge against facts.”

“Initially apprehensive (not qualified, experienced, skilled.) Training very useful and enjoyable.”

“I really enjoyed the diamond 9 values (activity) – it gave room for the group to discuss different views/values realising without all the facts you are unable to cast judgments.”

Jo Sykes, Young People’s Education Co-ordinator – Wave says:
“Bringing together youth work staff from all areas of Highland has been incredibly helpful in terms of sharing skills and experiences. In addition to this training, youth work staff will be coming along to the Wavelength sessions we deliver in secondary schools and will hopefully become a much more visible support structure for young people in terms of their sexual health and relationships. This is a really positive step forward for young people in terms of availability and access to support and help.”

If you need help and support about your sexual health and relationships, know that your local youth development officer is there to help and you can speak to them for support.