The ‘Talking about… sex and relationships: Young people speak out’ project is led by the AdversiTeam – a Facebook group of young people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions, who share ideas, thoughts and wishes, comment on and contribute to work, network and collaborate, and most importantly, offer support to each other.
Delivered in partnership with the Open University Sexuality Alliance (The Alliance) and Hospice UK, this is one of the recently funded projects by Together for Short Lives as part of their second round Improving Transitions for Young People initiatives. This project aims to support young people with an often neglected and important area of transition into adult life, their sexuality.
The AdversiTeam members have had varying experiences of transition into adult life, but the lack of support and services around exploring sex, sexuality, relationships and intimacy have been a key issue for all members. This is supported by wider consultation undertaken by The Alliance found that opportunities for learning about relationships and exploring sex and intimacy are almost non-existent for young people with life limiting or life threatening conditions: many people consider sex to be private and taboo, and talking about intimacy is often seen as embarrassing. In the context of young people whose lives are shortened, these conversations can be even more difficult – they may be seen as ‘unnecessary’ and often never take place.
AdversiTeam members contributed to the creation of the project proposal and are taking key roles in the development of a range of Open Educational Resources (OERs) that will support young people to have conversations about sex, intimacy and relationships with their family, carers or professional support staff. In Phase One, AdversiTeam members are producing resources designed to provide accessible, fun knowledge and information, as well as to support young people to develop skills that will enable them to initiate discussions about these issues.
The project’s second phase will focus on the production of a short booklet for carers and professionals to accompany the online resources. It will be available in hard copy and as an online PDF on the OpenLearn portal, with the aim of enabling professionals in all sectors to provide better support to young people on this important topic through having a greater understanding of the views and experiences of young people themselves. The booklet will be written and designed with the support of AdversiTeam to ensure that it focuses on issues that matter to young people.
Chair of AdversiTeam, Lucy Watts said:
“I can truly say how excited our group has been about this project which we have developed and will lead... we want to make sure we, as young people, and the professionals and individuals around us, have the tools and resources we need to explore and be supported with this aspect of our lives.”
The work is now well underway with both members of the Adversi Team and Project Management Group meeting each month. A full day workshop is to take place in April 2019 when the group will progress the development and production of resources.