East Renfrewshire Council team’s work helps reduce teen pregnancies

East Renfrewshire Council's award-winning young persons services team.
East Renfrewshire Council's award-winning young persons services team.

A trailblazing scheme which helped cut teenage pregnancies in Barrhead has won a national award.

East Renfrewshire Council’s young persons services team won the Improving Public Health category at the prestigious Local Government Chronicle Awards.

The team was recognised for its work in helping slash teen pregnancy rates in the Auchenback area by 60 per cent.

Specialists worked with teachers, parents and pupils at Barrhead High School and St Lukes High School – a move which also contributed to a 13 per cent drop in the number of first-time mums aged 19 or under.

LGC Judges described the team as “clear winners” and noted that their “risk assessment matrix stood out as a great example for other councils to follow”.

And Jamie Reid, partnerships and community services manager at East Renfrewshire Council, said: “We put teenage pregnancy at the heart of street work.

“We tested and retested our walking routes until we locked on to the young people from Auchenback and we cut the time to appropriately discussing sexual health from weeks to, in some cases, minutes.

“We worked with current young mums to develop a programme that conveyed the realities of young parenthood but also captures information young parents had wished they had known beforehand but didn’t know they needed at the time.

“While we’re proud of the progress we’ve made our work isn’t done. We can’t be complacent – we are continuing to try to improve our approach and reduce the rate even further.”

The project followed the publication of a report by the Christie Commission, which showed that Auchenback had above average teenage pregnancy rates for the last decade.

It showed that 21 per cent of all East Renfrewshire’s pregnant teenagers came from the town.

In response, the young person services team focused their efforts on identifying and engaging with teens who were at risk of becoming pregnant.

The team also used science, data and youth work, in partnership with local young parents and high schools to try and make a difference.