By Tom Renhard – vpcommwelfare@uwe.ac.uk

The VP Community and Welfare and the VP Sports and Health are running a sexual health campaign to give this topic a lot more coverage than it currently gets through a number of fun and engaging activities throughout the week of February 10th – 14th whilst also still looking at some of the real issues. As a part of this we will be giving out condoms, testing kits and information on all things Sexual Health and have a number of themed events running throughout the week. We are working with our on-campus Health centre to look at the services it offers and whether they are fit for purpose and generally in what health services are on offer for our students across our campuses and in the surrounding areas.

Condoms by 'robertelyov'

We hope to engage with a large number of students throughout the week and ensure that the work we do is inclusive in its nature by also looking at the types of services offered in Bristol, the areas where our students live and how accessible these services are. Are there any that are LGBT friendly? Is the current provision that is on offer enough? Are they at risk of closure?

We must ensure we ask these questions as through the Localism Bill a number of powers on service provision were devolved to local authorities (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/20/contents/enacted) which has seen some very negative impacts on Sexual Health services in some parts of the country (see: http://www.fpa.org.uk/news/continued-cuts-sexual-health-services-resulting-significant-costs or http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/apr/23/sexual-health-services-cuts or http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f641) which will end up more than likely costing the U.K. much more in the long run in increased healthcare costs than will ever actually be saved.

As part of the week of activities, one of the crucial issues for the Students’ Union being discussed is on consent and the importance of this in any situation; regardless of whether one or more of the individuals concerned are intoxicated or stone cold sober. It is never okay to engage in, or even attempt to engage in a sexual act with another individual without at the very minimum: 1. obtaining clear consent that this is okay; 2. that this consent is given freely and not under duress; and 3. The person concerned has the capacity to give that consent. Yes go out and have fun, but be safe, responsible and look out for others too. This extends to committed relationships and also into the clubbing environment where groping and inappropriate touching can make for an uncomfortable and very unstimulating night. We have committed to a new Safer Spaces Policy for our own Union spaces and are lobbying our affiliated venues and nights to ensure the same applies there with compliance with our Safer Spaces Policy to be a condition of all future affiliate venues we work with. We will be giving out information on the topic of consent and inviting students to get involved in a talk on the topic by a speaker that is to be confirmed nearer to the week.

When we think of student welfare, we need to go behind just what can be seen as “fun” topics and tackle real issues affecting us on a daily basis and we hope to achieve this on some issues through our sexual health, awareness and guidance week in February.

Get involved and for more information on Sexual Health campaigning at UWE contact: vpcommwelfare@uwe.ac.uk