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2015 winners

Congratulations to our winners of the UK Sexual Health Awards 2015! The awards celebrate the incredible projects, inspiring people and achievements across the sector.

Sexual health professional of the year

Winner: Dawn Purvis, Marie Stopes UK

Celebrating an emotional win, Dawn Purvis said:

I am overwhelmed and this is really dedicated to the efforts of the whole team, both in London for having the vision to set it up, and everyone in Belfast for all that they do every day.

The Marie Stopes clinic is now an established service and we are not going anywhere. We will continue to support the women who are coming to us in their droves to access the services they have a right to.” 

Young person of the year

Winner: Chlo Winfield, Speak Out Project

Chlo Winfield, 17, from Clifton, started the Speak Out project in May 2014, using her own experiences of being subjected to emotional abuse online at the age of 13. She was named Young person of the year at the UK Sexual Health Awards 2015 for managing to turn her own adversity into something positive.

Celebrating her win, Chlo said:

This award means a lot to me and it is so nice to be even nominated. 

It’s amazing how much support there has been for this project, which I started because of what I had experienced, and which I never expected to become what it has.”

Judges for the awards, organised by sexual health charities Brook and FPA, said they had a tough time separating the finalists, but that Chlo’s great entrepreneurial approach to addressing a social problem – both in terms of awareness and service provision – had won through.

A spokesman for the panel of experts said:

Speak Out is an excellent achievement for someone at a young age and demonstrates true initiative. Chlo is an inspiration.”

After experiencing online abuse, it took Chlo three years to speak out and find help. Through the Speak Out project, which she runs alongside studying for AS-Levels in Philosophy, Sociology and Maths at North Bristol Post-16 Centre, she said she wants to help young people recognise healthy and unhealthy relationships and understand emotional abuse – both on and offline. 

Highly commended 

Claudia Carvell, Lesbian and Gay Foundation, Sexpression Manchester, freelance writer

Adult sexual health service/project of the year

Winner: The Rowan Sexual Health Clinic, Northern Health & Social Care Trust (NHSCT).

The Rowan Centre, which brings together health, social care and criminal justice agencies to support people who have experienced sexual assault and abuse in one place, was named Adult sexual health service or project of the year at the UK Sexual Health Awards 2015.

Dr Emma McCarty who leads on genitourinary medicine at the Rowan Sexual Health Clinic said the award was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from the whole team.

I am absolutely honoured to receive such a prestigious award. It is a privilege to lead on the development and delivery of such a specialist service.

Hopefully this will raise the profile of the service and will help more people who have been the victim of sexual assault to come forward.”  

Also from the Rowan team, Dr Wallace Dinsmore said:

Sexually transmitted infections are a major worry for people who have been sexually assaulted, and this service is unique as well as offering a comfortable and welcoming setting for people to come forward.”  

When it opened in May 2013, the Rowan became the first place for people from across Northern Ireland to access a range of specialist services including a forensic medical examination, emergency contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and support in making a report to the police.

Staff at the centre also provide a 24-hour advice and information line, emotional and follow-up support, and referral on to other services.  

Young people's sexual health service/project of the year

Winner: 3 in 1 Scheme, Leeds City Council.

Leeds City Council’s 3 in 1 Scheme, which provides condoms, pregnancy testing and chlamydia screening, was named Young People’s Sexual Health Service or Project of the Year at the event…

Celebrating their win, Hannah Sowerbutts, Health Improvement Specialist at Leeds City Council, said:

The scheme has been running since 2001 so it is fantastic to win this award. 

Sexual health is everybody’s business, not just about clinicians; it’s about everyone who works with young people being equipped to have the right conversations. This is a fantastic night for Yorkshire.”

Highly commended 

Buckinghamshire - Young People's Sexual Health Programme, Buckinghamshire County Council

The Pamela Sheridan Award - recognising pioneering approaches to relationships, sex and wellbeing education

Winner: The Prison RSE Project: Empowering Vulnerable Women, Spectrum Community Health CIC

Spectrum Community Health CIC provides advice, care and treatment through a range of health and wellbeing services across the North of England and is based in Wakefield.

Spectrum won the award, which recognises pioneering approaches to relationships, sex and wellbeing education, for its work on the Prison RSE Project for inmates at HMP & YOI Styal – designed to reduce risk and improve resilience around sexual health. 

The prison scheme was based on the already successful relationships and sex education community programme which has been used in the Wakefield area. 

Andi Cope, Relationships and Sex Education Co-ordinator at Spectrum, said:

Being part of a group and joining in the sessions has been really great for the women, and has helped to raise their confidence. For some it has been life-changing.”

Celebrating the award, Jen Glover, Sexual Health Nurse at HMP Styal, said:

We have had a hugely successful first year and we want to see this project rolled out to all prisons, including for men. 

The project really empowers women, makes more aware of their contraceptive choices, more aware of sexually transmitted infections, and it helps them to recognise that they may have been manipulated or exploited by men without knowing it.”

Sexual health media campaign/storyline of the year - two winners

Joint winner: 10 Ways a Condom Can't Protect You, Sexual Health Sheffield & Diva Creative

Matt Harrison, Sexual Health Promotion Practitioner at Sexual Health Sheffield, said:

We’re so shocked, especially considering the exemplary work of the other finalists. 

We originally did a campaign for World AIDS Day 2012 and realised just how effective social media can be to share sexual health messages, especially in reaching people we wouldn’t otherwise get to.”

Celebrating the win George Critchley from Diva Creative said:

This campaign was all about coming up with something fun and a bit silly with really recognisable cultural references, like Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball video, which was being parodied all over the internet at the time.”

Judges for the awards, organised by sexual health charities Brook and FPA, said they had a tough time separating the finalists, but the passion involved in the project shone through.

A spokesman for the panel of judges said:

10 Ways is an inspiring example of what a small organisation can do, working with a tiny budget to reach a huge online audience, way over and above what you would expect their resources to deliver.”

Joint winner: Hollyoaks

Hollyoaks has won for its portrayal of domestic abuse by character Patrick Blake towards his partner Maxine Minniver.

The domestic abuse storyline was part of a This is Abuse campaign in partnership with the Home Office.

Charlotte Pattullo, Hollyoaks research coordinator, said:

We are very proud to have won this award as it is the culmination of a lot of hard work for over a year from the first storyline conferences when we talked about it. 

Working with charities including Women’s Aid and the Home Office on a This is Abuse campaign was a real coup for us, but Hollyoaks is known for doing a lot of firsts.”

The storyline showing character Patrick Blake become increasingly controlling of and abuse towards his partner Maxine Minniver developed through 2013 and 2014.

Senior digital editor Chris Norman said:

It’s great in our 20th birthday year to be known as a programme that raises awareness of issues. 

After winning Best Soap at the British Soap Awards last year, which was about entertainment and was fantastic, it’s great to win an award which recognises the effect on, and difference that we can make to, people’s lives and what they’re really going through.”

A spokesman for the panel of judges said:

Soaps have always been at the forefront of issue-led drama, getting the nation talking, challenging beliefs, and changing hearts, minds and - at times - even laws. 

This storyline not only explored an issue sensitively, dramatically and often uncomfortably over a whole year, but built that into a strong campaign with a clear message, working closely with the Home Office to provide exclusive content for their This Is Abuse website and television adverts. 

It is a truly exceptional example of how to harness the power of storytelling.”

Rosemary Goodchild award for excellence in journalism

Winner: “Breaking the taboo of abortion on TV and film” by Gillian Orr, The Independent

The judges unanimously agreed that this was a very strong article, which would serve to both remind and inform people who are pro-choice that while rights may have been won, these are still under threat of erosion (demonstrated by increasing noise of anti-choice protestors, for example outside bpas clinic in London), and there is no room for complacency.

Gillian was commended for the level of research undertaken, and for the fact she comes from an arts and entertainment background, rather than health or education where you expect to see abortion discussed, but clearly wanted to explore an issue that she feels passionate about. 

I had heard about a new American independent film that was coming out called Obvious Child which centred around a young woman electing to have an abortion. It was also a comedy. 

It was making waves in the US and I thought that it sounded interesting so went to an advanced screening; abortion is rarely depicted on screen and when it is it usually is shown as being a traumatic experience, and often going wrong. This just wasn’t my experience of abortion that I had seen with friends who had been through it. 

Without making light of a serious subject, I felt that this was a real breakthrough in dealing with abortion on screen. I thought Obvious Child was very brave and decided to look at other storylines in TV and film to see how they had dealt with it. 

The results were rather shocking, I thought. The subject tends to be shied away from or shown as distressing, even in the UK. When abortion charities claim that having realistic depictions of the procedure on screen can help women deal with it, I wanted to know why there weren’t more. 

I spoke to many health professionals, network execs and screenwriters for the piece. There was a huge response online with other women asking why abortion is so demonised on screen and I was invited to speak on a panel with the director and star of Obvious Child when it had its UK premiere to discuss its refreshing portrayal of abortion. 

It was an arts piece but one that sought answers about the portrayal of women’s experience.

Highly commended: 

  • “Men and boys get raped too” by Theo Merz, Daily Telegraph
  • “Let’s talk about sex: teachers back call for sex education to be compulsory” by Jane Martinson, Education Guardian.

Public Health England Sexual Health, Reproductive Health & HIV Award 2015: Best Practice in Whole System Commissioning

Winner: Joint whole system procurement of Sexual Health and HIV services in Norfolk using s75. Commissioned by: Norfolk County Council & NHS England - East Anglia Area Team

The winner was a collaboration between Norfolk County Council, NHS England’s Anglia Area Team and Public Health England’s Anglia and Essex centre to commission an integrated sexual health service.

The new service, a one-stop shop for a range of sexual health needs, was given the Public Health England Sexual Health, Reproductive Health & HIV Award.

Celebrating their win, Dr Augustine Pereira, consultant in public health medicine at Norfolk County Council, said:

We are absolutely delighted to win this award. Throughout the whole process we wanted the best outcomes for patients; we didn’t focus on barriers but instead on how we could achieve what we wanted.”

Daniel Eve, NHS England Service Specialist, said:

This was all about relationship building between organisations and, led by the council, this is made it very easy for NHS England to be involved. The ultimate aim was a well integrated pathway for patients to access services.”

Parliamentarian of the year

Winner: Luciana Berger MP

Shadow Public Health Minister Luciana Berger MP was named Brook and FPA’s Parliamentarian of the year for her commitment to keeping sexual health on the political agenda.

Celebrating her award, Luciana Berger MP, said she held a strong interest in sexual health from her background in the National Union of Students.

It’s so important we keep talking about sexual health,” she said. “Especially since the prevalence of some STIs is on the increase.” 

We are committed to ensuring we have statutory SRE in every school, that we tackle late diagnosis of HIV and increase testing, and we want a proper sexual health strategy that is implemented right across the country.”

Brook and FPA’s Policy and Parliamentary Manager Harry Walker said:

Luciana has championed sexual health issues at a time when services have been cut and fragmented, and has been a great supporter of our work over the last year.

She was at the centre of launching Labour’s health strategy for the election with improving sexual health care as a clear objective and has reiterated her commitment to sex and relationships education in all schools.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner: Baroness May Blood

Dr Audrey Simpson, FPA Acting CEO, accepted the award on behalf of Baroness Blood and read out an acceptance speech, an extract of which is below:

I accept this award tonight with a good degree of humility, but gladly do so on behalf of so many people back in Northern Ireland who bravely every day stand for equal rights.

The FPA, Brook and the Marie Stopes clinic, whose workers and the people who use these centres have to face pickets who use intimidation to try to stop the good work that is taking place in these centres, carry on the great work they are doing. This includes providing better sexual health advice and education, and also the great support they give to women who have arrived at a very difficult time in their lives and have to face pickets to get the advice and support they need.

The work that is done by the FPA, Brook and Marie Stopes is so vital to the sexual and reproductive health in Northern Ireland, and if in some small part I have been able to support that work now and in the future that for me would be honour enough, but I wish to thank everyone who has been involved in all the awards."

Our photograph shows Dr Audrey Simpson accepting the award, with host Dr Phil Hammond, on behalf of Baroness May Blood.