"Sexual health does not exist in a silo. Rather, an individual’s sexual health both impacts and is impacted by their physical, social, emotional, mental, financial, and environmental health, as well as by the socio-economic factors that influence their daily lives.
"However, many sexual health services still run in isolation from other health and support services, reinforcing the idea that sexual health should only be discussed in specific environments by sexual health experts. Whilst this is true sometimes, it is also true that many aspects of good sexual and reproductive health can be discussed in a variety of settings by a variety of individuals.
"When good sexual health advice is offered in tandem with other health and community services, the goal of good sexual health for all is much more achievable- assuming that all involved have access to good sexual health education and resources.
"METRO received EU funding to work with partners in South East England, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to improve sexual health outcomes by building sexual health support into existing community resources. Our belief is that we will be able to improve sexual health outcomes for people who are vulnerable by finding out what is already happening in their local communities, and integrating in sexual health training and resources.
"Our approach to this will be three-fold. First, we will design and implement a questionnaire for distribution across a variety communities we know are more vulnerable to poor sexual health outcomes, including those who are insecurely housed, sex workers, people who identify as LGBTQ, people with English as their second language, Travellers, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Responses to this questionnaire will help us identify behaviour trends, community resources, and unmet needs.
"Second, we will identify key community and educational organisations that are already established as supportive community resources. Through this exercise we will find out what sexual health support is already offered, where any key gaps might be, and what training and resources would be useful.
"Finally, we will create a training and resource toolkit to trial with key organisations, and assess the impact on sexual health outcomes for those most vulnerable. Findings will be reported on and disseminated to relevant and interested parties in the final stage of this four year project."
For more information or to get involved, visit the SHIFT programme web page.