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Success Report 22/23

Helen Marshall, Brook’s Chief Executive, reflects on some of Brook’s key achievements in 2022/23 and how we have made a difference through challenging inequality, increasing accessibility, transforming digitally and driving innovation.

Brook believes that excellent sexual health, mental health and wellbeing is a right. Our unique offer combines clinical services, relationships and sex education, outreach in community settings, wellbeing programmes and counselling. Our life-course approach to sexual health and wellbeing means that people can benefit from our holistic services at any stage of their life.

I am proud to share that in 2022/23 we worked collaboratively with service users, sector partners, commissioners, funders and corporates to make a positive difference to the lives of 1.43 million people.

In celebration of our work, we have won multiple awards including the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Volunteer Award in recognition of our outstanding work empowering and supporting young people, The I Want Great Care Certificate of Excellence 2023 in recognition of outstanding care and positive reviews from our services users and the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index Silver Award which recognises exceptional employers who are committed to supporting their LGBT+ staff and customers. You can read more about our awards in our new online success report.

We have worked hard to meet the ever-changing and increasing needs of our service users and we have responded rapidly to the sharp and devastating rise in self-harm and suicide ideation that we have seen first-hand through our safeguarding work.

Thanks to our innovative new partnerships, increased public affairs activity and expansion into new geographical areas, we continue to raise our profile and reach new audiences.

While we celebrate our many successes, we must also recognise that 22/23 has not been without its challenges.

Over the last 12 months, Brook and our sector partners are seeing a rising threat to inclusive Relationships and Sex Education, fuelled by misinformation and exacerbated by stigma.

We know that Relationships, Sex and Health Education is expected to prevent and mitigate many harms experienced in young people’s lives. From sexual abuse and exploitation to extreme pornography, misogyny, discrimination, coercive relationships, mental health issues and much more.

That’s why we’ve been busy challenging inequality through our education work in the classroom, addressing sexual harassment in schools with our partners Let me Know and Women and Girls Network, promoting healthy relationships with Scouts and Girlguiding, fighting for abortion rights and gender equality, breaking barriers through Sexual Health Week and amplifying the voices of our service users and participation forum members to challenge inequality through our advocacy work.

The Commission on Young Lives report Hidden in Plain Sight warns that social care, education, family support and children’s mental health systems are failing thousands of vulnerable young people, costing taxpayers billions, diminishing life chances and putting some teenagers at risk of grooming, exploitation and serious violence.

Brook has never been more determined to improve access to sexual health and wellbeing services, especially for young people and those who face additional barriers. In 22/23, we hosted two live broadcast RSE Lessons reaching 73,260 students and their teachers. Our participation work has deepened our understanding of the needs of neurodivergent young people and supported six small charities working with neurodivergent young people through our Small Grants Programme. We continued our fight for period equality including increased access to information and products, pioneered new accessible sexual health provision in Southend and our digital health promotion increased access to our high-quality services.

During our 2020-23 strategy, we radically transformed our approach to digital services across Brook.

Our holistic clinical, education and training provision has been enhanced and improved by our digital tools, allowing more people to benefit from our high-quality products and services.

Our innovative digital tools include STI home testing, risk of pregnancy calculator and find a service tool and have revolutionised the way people access sexual health and wellbeing services we had more than 63,100 visits to our Digital Front Door in 22/23.

We continue to transform RSE with our first-class digital solutions and our online learning platform, Brook Learn, had 30,780 registered users. Our latest Brook Learn course, Introduction to RSE, had 1,200 registrations in the first 12 months with 92% rating it as good or very good.

We pride ourselves on being responsive to emerging and unmet needs that are faced by the communities we support.

This year, our staff witnessed a rapid decline in young people’s mental health with a rise in unhealthy relationships, self-harm and risk of suicide. In response, we innovated and strengthened our mental health and wellbeing offer for young people, firmly embedded our life-course approach to sexual and reproductive health, delivered a new menopause support programme in Cornwall, launched Brook thought leadership programmes and continued our innovative partnership work with brands such as Festival Republic and Lil-Lets.

Everything we do at Brook is underpinned by our commitment to keeping people safe.

As Brook’s services expand, so too does the complexity and level of vulnerability that we encounter. Thanks to our long-established expertise, we are equipped to respond effectively to the ever-changing needs of young people and vulnerable adults.

I want to thank our expert workforce, our partners and our supporters for helping us achieve so much in 2022/23 and for your ongoing support in the first year of delivering our bold and brave new strategy.

As we approach our 60th year, we reflect on our pioneering founder, Helen Brook, who refused to let stigma stand in her way.

Our new ambitious strategy follows in Helen’s footsteps by shouting louder and fighting harder for a society that welcomes everyone and trusts people to make decisions about their health, their bodies and their identities.

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