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Young people with special and educational needs receive sex education, thanks to Freemasons


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Around 500 young people with special and educational needs (SEND) aged 16-25 will be given much needed advice and information on sexual health and relationships thanks to a grant of £64,278 from Durham Freemasons to the young people’s charity, Brook.


Brook believes that all young people have the right to high quality relationships and sex education that supports them to stay safe and develop healthy, enjoyable relationships.


Many SEND young people have little or no knowledge of sex, human anatomy or healthy relationships. According to the NSPCC, they are three times more likely to have non-consensual sexual experiences.


Brook has responded by developing the ‘My Life’ County Durham project. It provides free support through focus groups as well as one-to-one sessions which provide information on topics like anatomy, consent, sexuality and more. The project will also help parents and carers to navigate difficult conversations with young people around sex and sexual health.


A 2020 study by Brook revealed that 80 per cent of professionals couldn’t find accessible resources to educate SEND young people about sexual health, and 50 per cent lacked training.


This project will develop the confidence of professionals from schools, colleges, and pastoral youth workplaces to properly support SEND young people. Training will be delivered in known and accessible places, such as colleges or community settings, with sessions being offered both daytime and evenings to fit the schedules of young people, working parents and professionals.


In previous programmes, Brook has reported an average of 72 per cent of young people noticing a positive change in their knowledge of relationships and sexual health. The ‘My Life’ County Durham project aims to improve knowledge and increase the confidence of SEND young people to express when they are uncomfortable with someone else’s actions.


The grant from Durham Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families, and friends, from across England and Wales.


Rebecca Shutt, Head of Education at Brook Young People said:

“We’re really grateful to Durham Freemasons for their generous grant, which is allowing us to educate and inform young people about important topics around sexual health.


 “We want to remove the barriers that young people with SEND face, as we believe everyone has the right to lead a healthy life and have healthy relationships.”


Michael Shaw from Durham Freemasons said:

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Brook Young People with their excellent support service. Sex and relationships is a taboo subject for many people, and it can be even more difficult for those with SEND. This is a vital project and I’m proud that Freemasons are able to support it.”


(L to R)   Rebecca Shutt, Head of Education, Michael Shaw, Durham Freemasons and Joanne Henderson, Education Coordinator for Co Durham


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