ALTERNATIVES Stamford’s pregnancy advice centre, has a new director and is expanding its services.
Kate Nottidge recently joined the team to lead and develop the centre’s work in relationship education for young people as well as its core work of helping those facing unplanned pregnancy.
The centre prides itself on offering confidential, caring, impartial, non-directive and expert support from trained advisors and since opening its doors in July 2009 it has seen over 300 clients with an age range from 13 to mid-60s.
“Clients get in touch for a number of reasons – ranging from unexpected pregnancies to pregnancy-testing to sexual health advice. We also provide post-abortion and baby-loss counselling. Working in partnership with referral agencies - local GPs, health visitors and midwives - we are able to signpost to further services as appropriate,” Kate says.
A board of dedicated trustees underpins the work of the centre and, in addition to Kate, managers Donna Dickinson and Helen Leech work alongside a team of volunteers. The centre covers Rutland as well as Stamford and is self-funding, relying heavily on donations.
“We are a team of trained advisors with a passion for supporting both women and men in informed decision-making. Volunteers stand with them at any part of their journey – whether that involves supporting pregnancy or termination,” says Kate.
Her role is to oversee a growing number of projects as well as take their Alternatives Stamford Education Team (ASET) programme to schools and youth groups.
“We run Evaluate, a programme to equip young people to make healthy choices by looking at issues that confront them in daily life – be that media influence, peer pressure, drug and alcohol abuse or sexual relationships. At the heart of the project is the belief that every young person is a unique and valuable individual, capable of making and maintaining healthy choices if suitably equipped and supported,” she says.
The project is being delivered using four age-appropriate multimedia presentations for school years 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11.
In addition, 800 students at New College Stamford took part in a week of relationship tutorials last term. Work at the college is ongoing and Alternatives is there on alternate weeks to offer advice on relationships, sexually-transmitted infections and pregnancy-testing. This work is undertaken in partnership with Stamford’s SureStart Children’s Centre.
The partnership has also led to a jointly-run Young Expectant Parent course which has been a huge success – starting with just two parents and finishing with 12. Course materials are provided by Lincolnshire County Council. Young parents are prepared for some of the realities of parenting while acquiring an accredited qualification.
Alternatives also has a store of baby clothing and equipment which is used by the children’s centre, health visitors and CAP debt charity in helping to support families in the community.
The centre, based on the Stamford Hospital site, opens on Mondays and Thursdays for appointments and drop-ins. A mobile phone is manned constantly and appointments can be made out of opening hours.
There will be a fundraising Bollywood Ball at Stamford Arts Centre on Saturday, September 8. Tickets are £50.
For more details see the website at www.alternativesstamford.co.uk or see www.facebook.com/alternativesstamford