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The Terrence Higgins Trust is the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, named after Terry Higgins who was one of the first people in the UK to die with AIDS. The charity was founded in 1982, the year Terry died, and was named after him to personalise and humanise AIDS in a very public way. The late Princess Diana was an early supporter.

The charity users a combination of staff and volunteer peer ambassadors to take sexual health messages out to wherever it is needed. For the last five years it has used OCN London to accredit its training courses

“As much of our work is about delivering sexual health training we needed something very specific as our work has many complexities. Basically, we needed to demonstrate competency and build a partnership with an awarding organisation that was absolutely right for our staff and our volunteers. It also needed to be flexible,” says Judy Flaschmann, Learning and Development Advisor for the Trust. “OCN London met that brief perfectly and they are very cost effective for a small centre like ours,” “We work with another awarding organisation for a different set of awards and the difference is quite noticeable. Although this wasn’t our main motivation for choosing OCN London it’s a bonus.”

Around 70 learners a year gain OCN qualifications with the Trust. It offers two main programmes

  • a Level 3 course in delivering sexual health training for staff and volunteers who then go into schools, youth centres, pharmacies, all sorts of places to train others around sexual health
  • a Level 2 course in facilitating sexual health workshops as part of the Peer Ambassadors into Sexual Health (PASH) project.

The training is designed to enable peer ambassadors to in turn to train young people to be sexual health ambassadors for their peer group. “We do it this way because at the crucial ages when young people learn about sex they will pay far more attention to their to peers than anyone else. We have contracts to work in the Midlands, Bristol and the North to deliver this training and we work especially around hard-to-reach groups that don’t normally access services. It’s a brilliant way to build confidence in our peer ambassadors so it’s very good for their personal development too,” added Judy.

It’s a requirement for all Trust staff involved in work as sexual health ambassadors to take OCN-accredited training so the Trust has a consistent level of competency the trustees can be confident about offering. Courses are run across two days with face-to-face contact and an assessed piece of practical work also has to be submitted and an observation of their training delivery. After this learners go out with experienced trainers shadowing them to learn the ropes. The training is detailed and thorough. “Our staff and volunteers are extraordinarily passionate about sexual health and the training we offer them is about helping them to formalise that passion into a way that helps other people to learn,” added Judy.

Judy says she found working with OCN London really positive. “It helps that we’ve had the same quality assessor who’s very supportive and encouraging and keeps us on the straight and narrow. It’s very important to me that we get our systems right that our courses mean something. OCN London’s administrative support has been really quick and helpful. The new e-registration site now makes things much quicker. We’ve been using it for a few months and like it very much. It’s winning all round for us.”