NHS Barnsley Primary Care Trust

Summer 2008

The challenge

Barnsley’s teenage conception rate of 49.7 per 1,000 females aged 15-17 years was above average. Rates correlate with levels of deprivation and the index of multiple deprivation, and were twice as high in the poorest wards. Alongside the issue of teenage conception there were also worrying rises in STI rates amongst the youth population. The PCT felt that a lack of awareness of sexual health services was the problem. TCC were hired to help get the message across.

How we approached it

Our initial research showed that many young people in the area did not know what services were available or how to access them. So, we carried out a social marketing campaign to increase awareness and use of sexual health services and make using them ‘the norm’. In our insight phase we contacted over 300 young people, identifying levels of awareness, barriers to access, sources of information and key influencers. We used an asset-based approach based on connections brokered via social networks to develop strong and trusted relationships, and we used devises like promotional ‘credit cards’ to engage people.

What happened

The social marketing campaign we developed was led by people from within the younger cohort we were aiming to reach. Channels included a local radio station popular with young people in the area, along with an interactive website, peer-to-peer events, partnership with Terrence Higgins Trust, pharmacy collaboration and participation with the Healthy Schools Team. A video produced for the final campaign is now shown to all pupils in the area through schools, and the campaign generated local news coverage. Subsequent reports showed a high penetration of the promotional ‘credit cards’, which every school child is given during induction, and high levels of awareness of the locations and services on offer.