|'Hi, I'll have a massive bag of condoms please. No flake, thanks...'|
The phrase 'to groom' is particularly apt for this blog post as well, because on my way home today from a local park, I saw a Brighton and Hove City Council 'Youth Information Bus'.
Standing a little further away from the vehicle than the little nipper pictured above, you could be forgiven for thinking Preston Park had an ice cream van. It's a sweltering day and I may have even considered a 99 with a flake myself, but on arrival at the scene, I realised the only things of different flavours available at this little van would be condoms.
So, what is a van manned by two Council workers with leaflets, some seating inside and an array of prophylactics doing in Preston Park? Well, the youth workers wait there inside or outside the 'youth bus' for young people coming back from their schools and colleges just in case they 'need a chat' with some youth workers.
Of course the 'service' involved here is one of State to child. So, young people want to talk about things that are bothering them. It could be bullying at school, it could be a sensitive issue at home, or it could be that the young person wants to talk about the fact they drink too much alcohol or something. Or, it could be that they just need to top up their 'C-Card' so that the youth can carry on having sex with whoever they happen to be having sex with, safe in the knowledge that condoms are a not entirely successful way of avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.
So, naturally, with my eager Catholic blogger hat on, I approached the workers and asked whether they are involved in abortion referrals. For some reason, the idea of what resembles an ice cream van in a local park preying on young teenagers in order to get them into abortion clinics, I thought, would make for an interesting blog post. The workers replied that only GPs can refer abortions but that if someone approached them telling them they had an unwanted pregnancy and they wanted an abortion that they would be able to "signpost" that person to an abortion clinic. Personally, I thought that wasn't that much of a juicy story, but I did spy some leaflets in their windows from Brook, advertising their 'counselling services' to young people who just wanted a 'confidential chat' about issues that affect them. It's not a juicy story because we've all known for a long time how involved youth 'services' have been in State schools.
If anything, its a surreal, rather 'Big Brother' situation when the ice cream van is absent from the park but the condom van is regularly there waiting for children to come and pick from their selection. I was just about to leave when, astonishingly, the worker decided to voluntarily divulge extra 'information' of which I was certainly previously unaware.
|Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Hove|
I replied that what with the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception being what it is, that the fact they are doing this 'sexual health service' thing with Cardinal Newman is rather odd.
She replied that for that reason the 'youth information bus' is not allowed on the school premises. But, she added, instead they situate themselves about 100 - 200 yards away up the road near the Texaco garage, so that Catholic children can access their 'services'. So, naturally, I asked them how the school feel about that situation. The worker replied that the school are 'not unsupportive' of their work.
I wonder, how 'not supportive' of their work with Cardinal Newman's children would the school be if all the parents of Cardinal Newman children knew that there was a van distributing condoms to their children and 'signposting' their children for abortions? How 'not unsupportive' of the work of the youth information bus with Cardinal Newman children be if the Bishop was aware of it? How 'not unsupportive' would the school be if the presence of the bus just yards away from the Catholic High School with the school's tacit consent were a fact known by the Catholic Church on a local and even national level?
You (and I) can contact Bishop Kieran Conry to alert His Lordship to this situation by emailing him at: firstname.lastname@example.org and/or His Lordship's Secretary: email@example.com
By all means, feel free to quote from this blogpost. Oh and do say a Hail Mary that the Youth Information Service bus gets told to clear off from preying on Catholic high school kids and young adults in Brighton and Hove. As a Catholic who may one day be a parent with a child at school, it would certainly worry me if the Catholic School in my local area did not engage in some kind of a showdown with the Council over this matter. After all, wasn't it the Council who recently cut the local bus transport service to Cardinal Newman Catholic School?