Improving the sexual health and contraceptive use of homeless young people in London

April 10, 2017

SOURCE: PSN

Our UK parent charity, the Margaret Pyke Trust, has a long history of supporting research into sexual and reproductive health. In the last few years it has continued to do so by contributing towards the fees of a PhD study, which aims to improve the sexual health of vulnerable young homeless people. 

 

Our UK parent charity, the Margaret Pyke Trust, has a long history of supporting research into sexual and reproductive health. In the last few years it has continued to do so by contributing towards the fees of a PhD study, which aims to improve the sexual health of vulnerable young homeless people.

The PhD is being undertaken by Fiona McGregor, a Specialist Sexual Reproductive Health Nurse, and is being carried out under the supervision of Professor Jill Shawe and Dr. Ann Robinson at the University of Surrey. The study aims to shed some light on the under-researched area of sexual and reproductive health amongst homeless young people in Central London. Homelessness for the young has grown significantly in recent years, but very little is known about their sexual health knowledge and attitudes. Fiona's PhD also aims to develop a sexual health care model, which will be able to be used by healthcare providers across the country.

The fieldwork was conducted over a five month period between 2015 and 2016 in hostels and day centres for homeless young people in the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington. During this time observations and interviews were recorded with homeless young people (aged 16 – 21 years) and their key workers, to establish their attitudes towards, and knowledge of, sexual and reproductive health.

Preliminary themes indicate that homeless young people’s background experiences of abuse, fear, and danger considerably affect their perceptions surrounding their sexual health needs. Other themes highlight the unpredictability of their sexual health behaviour, and their fluctuating relationships with the staff they come across because of their homeless situation.

With the project due for completion in the Autumn of 2017, the data continues to be analysed and will eventually be used to determine a model of sexual health care for this particular vulnerable population Oral and poster presentations have been given at conferences locally, nationally and internationally. Whilst today the Trust is more active internationally undertaking advocacy and project actions in the developing world, supporting this important research is a way to continue to Trust’s academic legacy.