How we’re influencing Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy

Throughout May and June, we asked our Care Experienced members to share their experiences on Sexual and Reproductive Health issues with us, as part of our Annual Participation Programme. By completing these surveys, focus groups, and more, we’ve been able to create a report which will be used to help bring real-world change across policy and practice! We’ve broken down the report for you here, and you can also read the report in full here:

Sexual and Reproductive Health – Full Report

Here’s a brief summary of what our members told us, and the recommendations we’ll be taking forward based on these responses:

You told us that Care Experience creates many barriers towards learning high-quality information about Sexual and Reproductive health. Low school attendance, priorities at home, and placement moves all combine to make learning about sexual health more difficult than it should be. The older age of kinship carers was also cited as a difficulty in creating healthy, informative conversations about sexual health. As a result, this often leads to members learning instead through their own, real-world experiences, rather than through high-quality information.

Furthermore, some professional services can be quite tricky to use for Care Experienced people. This could be due to the awkwardness of professionals and carers, as well as services not being trauma-informed, or simply giving poor advice to young people. Many also felt judged, stigmatised or ‘othered’ by professionals and adults – indeed, half of all respondents felt their Care Experience impacted their use of professional services. Therefore, it’s clear that several areas need to be improved to support Care Experienced people in learning about Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Using all this data, Who Cares? Scotland’s policy team and our National Representative Body (NRB) have drawn up several recommendations for change. These come under 12 areas:

  1. Achieving empowerment through learning in schools
  2. Ensuring education is inclusive
  3. Supporting carers and families
  4. Bridging the generational gap seen in kinship care
  5. Training the social care workforce
  6. Honest and open conversations with carers and families
  7. Access to period products
  8. Recognising sexual experience is an unsafe learning method
  9. Trauma-informed services
  10. Easy accessibility to confidential resources and services
  11. LGBTQ+ inclusivity
  12. Understanding Care Experience and harmful prejudices

What’s next?

We’ll be using these key themes to influence policy-makers to create positive change for Care Experienced people, and will keep you updated with our progress as we continue our mission! Thank you to all 55 members who provided their experiences for this report. If you have any questions, please get in touch! You can email policy@whocaresscotland.org, or speak to your WC?s worker!

With thanks to Scottish Local Authorities, funding partners and donors who make our work possible.