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Council tackling substance misuse and sexual health inequalities amongst young people

An innovative new service to reduce harm to young people caused by risky sexual behaviours and substance misuse has been approved by Lewisham’s Mayor and Cabinet.

This follows World Aids Day on 1 December which the Council marked by lighting up Laurence House in red. Lewisham currently has higher rates of HIV diagnoses than the London and England average and experiences high rates of teenage pregnancy.

The new Substance Misuse and Sexual Health Service – to be provided by the charity Humankind – will support young people aged 10-25 who live, attend school or are registered with a GP in Lewisham.

It will aim to prevent and reduce harm through early intervention and disseminating information, and reduce health inequalities amongst young people, particularly those considered most at-risk or vulnerable. This will include targeted outreach at locations where at-risk young people are already based, for example within the criminal justice system and Children’s Social Care as well as specialist, longer-term support for substance misuse.

The new service will be launched in April 2022, replacing the Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Service, to provide more specialist services.

Cllr Chris Barnham, Lewisham’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and School Performance, said: "We’ve listened to young people in our design of the new service. As a result, we will have a stronger digital offer, including a highly visible online and social media presence. We're also extending the coverage to up to age 25 and ensuring better targeting of at-risk young people."

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