Reducing Teenage Pregnancy Rates in Auchenback

Jamie ReidPartnerships and Community Services Manager at East Renfrewshire Council, blogs about the award-winning project to reduce teen pregnancy rates in Auchenback. Our members can also read the full briefing on this and other successful projects here.

Following the Christie Commission and the prevention push – analysis of local data in East Renfrewshire showed the neighbourhood of Auchenback in Barrhead had above average teenage pregnancy rates for at least decade and accounted for 21% of all of East Renfrewshire’s teenage pregnancies.

The Council’s youth work team, Young Persons Services, working in partnership with local high schools had already developed a teenage pregnancy prevention programme, RespectER. Dozens of young people identified as engaging in high-risk behaviours had completed the programme and amazingly none had an underage or unplanned pregnancies. Despite the success of the RespectER programme the teenage pregnancy rate in Auchenback remained persistently high.

In January 2013 something changed: the first Learning Session for the Early Year Collaborative – now part of the Children’s and Young Peoples Collaborative (CYPIC) took place. This introduced the team to new ways of thinking and targeting our work and taught us how to combine data, improvement science and youth work.

Our aim was to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate in East Renfrewshire by reducing the rate in Auchenback. To achieve that we focussed on:

  • Identifying high risk young people earlier;
  • Improving how we identified high-risk young people; and
  • Increasing and improving how well our service provision and programmes prevented teenage pregnancy.

This focus led to four key changes in the way we worked.

  1. We really focussed on young people in Auchenback

We didn’t ignore young people from other areas but we persistently pressed our partners to look closer at young people from Auchenback. We met the Heads and senior learning teams and pressed the case for giving attention to Auchenback young people.

  1. We completely changed our approach to street-work

Our youth-work street-work in Barrhead was generic. It was about getting to know young people, diversionary work where needed and sign posting them to services. It could take months to identify them as being a high teenage pregnancy risk and engage them in a prevention programme. 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.

  1. Preventative Data-Driven Risk Model

We used international research on teenage pregnancy and local data to create a predictive risk matrix of young people who might be at risk. Working with partners, in the two local High Schools we were able to identify young people who were previously unknown to Young Persons Services and who not have been identified as being at risk. These young people were then appropriate and sensitively engaged and supported.

  1. New programme for lower risk young people that was co-produced/designed by staff and existing young mums.

Our school partners identified a need and demand for general parenting programmes for S5/6 pupils. 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. This was part of a specific new programme and it was also woven into existing CLD-led programmes for S5/6 pupils.

All of this work led us to securing a 60% reduction in teenage pregnancies in Auchenback. The percentage of first time mums in Barrhead who are under 19 years of age has fallen from 22% to 9%. Despite our success the teenage pregnancy rate in Auchenback remains slightly above the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board average. 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.

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