Sexual Health in Sheffield
Shout! is a health advice and support service providing a space for gay and bisexual men living or socialising in Sheffield. Funded by NHS Sheffield with a remit of sexual health promotion and HIV prevention, Shout! has supported the local community since 1996.
Dan Kahn talks with Matt Harrison about the service:
SHOUT has been around for many years now as a service to support gay and bisexual men's health and welfare. Can you give us a short history of the service and sum it up in three words?
Matt: Shout has a long history of support for gay men, originally voluntary but now has NHS support. It has always had a remit to support sexual health and wellbeing for gay men, offers a confidential space where gays can access 1 to 1 support and group discussions. I could sum it up as: Confidential, face to face support.
As with a lot of other services of this kind, SHOUT has had to fight hard for funding in order to stay in existence. Can you update us with the latest on the funding issue and tell us about any new ideas you are looking at to broaden SHOUT's range of services. Most noticeably there is no equivalent service for Lesbian/Bi/Trans women, for example.
We are aware that resources are limited and it is lucky that we still have a weekly service for Gay/Bi men when other similar services have folded in other towns. We want to ensure the service is a relevant one and meets users needs and is effective. We think it’s very important that we engage and consult with service users and we adapt to health needs, and on issues that we are told have an effect on gay men’s health and wellbeing.
Many local LGBT people fondly remember participating in the annual SPRING OUT festival of free workshops usually in May, (which is open to women as well as men) which ran for many years until it was abruptly cancelled last year. What plans are there for bringing back SPRING OUT, either in a format like the original, or in a different form, bearing in mind the issue of sourcing funding.
Spring Out has always been a valued part and integral part of our work with Sheffield's LGBT community, it was with regret that it was cancelled for the last couple of years. Currently there are no plans to revive it, although we would certainly be open to the possibility of it returning. We would definitely be looking to support or revive a community based event/initiative. Plenty of local groups like Soundout, the Choir and Out Of Office, have emerged since Spring Out, and indeed Spring Out predates even Pride, as it was the first proper open all-day LGBT event in Sheffield.
We would certainly look at how we want to support the health needs of our community with any initiatives, including being involved at voluntary community events in the style of Spring Out.
And Finally, what are SHOUT doing for Pride, and will they also be at Sheffield's new free Gay Festival, Pinknic, in Weston Park on Sunday 15th September?
We will be present at both these events and will be publicising our services for all who attend Pride, at Pride we will have a stall at Barkers Pool, alongside a stall from Sheffield Sexual Health Services and C. H. I. V. (The Sheffield Centre for HIV), offering info, free condoms/lube, and Shout and the other organisations between them will offer access to STI screening for both women and men. Also present will be the specially-equipped Chlamydia screening-bus. We will also be walking around Devonshire Green chatting to people at Pride, telling them about our services.
At Pinknic, we will be doing a stall, and C. H. I. V. will be doing a stall too, as Weston Park is located right next to the University, and Pinknic will be during the time that the students return after holidays, we will also be welcoming new and existing students there with info about Sexual Health Services and giving out condoms and other freebies. (Other NHS services will probably also be represented, as Weston Park is also next to the Royal Hallamshire and Children’s Hospitals).
For more information call the Centre for HIV 0114 305 4444.
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