| 22 January 2003

Sweet is a club night event aimed at raising awareness of drug, alcohol and sexual health services for black teenagers in Sheffield.

The event was formed via a link between the Sheffield Black Drugs Service and the Centre for HIV & Sexual Health.

Goals: To encourage take-up of services by ethnic minority teenagers, and highlight the links between drugs, alcohol and sex. A second aim is to provide a space for teenagers where they can get advice informally from team workers.

Funding: Via the Community Against Drugs project, part of Sheffield City Council's Sheffield First for Safety Initiative.

Research findings from the Centre for HIV & Sexual Health revealed that more than 40 per cent of teenagers' first sexual experience occurred under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and one-fifth stated that they regretted it. The centre and the Black Drugs Service in Sheffield took joint action by launching a hang-out space to attract teenagers who would be able to mix with trained workers.

Sweet is a once-a-month bar night where teenagers can listen to DJs, watch multimedia music videos on a video wall, take part in a music quiz or lounge and interact with each other.

Specially trained Sweet workers from the drugs and sexual health advisory services are also on hand to help build relationships with the young people, to offer advice and information, and even go with them to visit a clinic if needed.

Donna Linehan, services manager of the Sheffield Black Drugs Services, said: "Research into black and ethnic minority teenagers revealed that they were largely unaware of the information services available to them, or felt services to be unapproachable. We thought we could tackle that by combining approachability with creating somewhere informal for them to hang out."

The first night of the event was held just before Christmas at the Sheffield Boardwalk music venue, and more than 140 teens turned up.

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