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Mark is a Sexual Health Promotion Specialist at New Croft Centre

Mark | Sexual Health Promotion Specialist

New Croft Centre

I have been part of the team at New Croft Sexual Health Service based in Newcastle City Centre since 2010. One of my main roles is to Co-ordinate the Newcastle C-Card Scheme, a service where young people between the ages of 13 – 25 years can access sexual health information and support along with free condoms from over 70 outlets across Newcastle.

Another big part of my job role is the sexual health promotion side, I’m part of a regional steering group that organises activities/events raising awareness of HIV leading up to and including World AIDS Day on December 1st every year. I co-ordinate sexual health promotion stalls throughout the year including Newcastle Pride and Fresher’s Fair’s in the universities & college.  I am also lead facilitator for a number of sexual health training courses offered to staff across the city including: Introduction to Sexual Health, HIV/STI Awareness Training & C-Card Training.

What are the most important qualities you need for this type of work?

You need to have the ability to project manage and have good teaching, facilitation and presentation skills. Good communication skills are also essential as well as being non-judgemental, friendly and approachable at all times. It’s really important to be able to build a rapport with people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds along with having an understanding of different cultures, genders and sexualities.  

How long have you been in this profession?

I’ve been working within the sexual health field for 15 years.

Where did you train and what did that training involve? 

  • Sexual health - I’ve trained all over the country on lots of different sexual health issues.
  • Training – Again I’ve accessed lots of courses across the country to improve my knowledge & experience.  I’ve also gained a Certificate in Education from Newcastle College
  • Public Health – I gained a Masters in Public Health at Northumbria University in 2012.

Why did you decide to do this job?

I’ve been interested in sexual health for a long time. I spent a couple of years volunteering for Gateshead Sexual Health Promotion and really enjoyed it, so after working for 18 years as a food retail manager decided to take the plunge and change career, getting my first job in sexual health as a HIV+ Men’s Support Worker in April 2000.

What do you like best about it? 

Everything, every day is different which brings new challenges. I work with a fantastic set of people both in the New Croft Centre and other sexual health services both city-wide and regionally, and we all feel we are doing a job that is worth while.

What do you like least about it?

Nothing.  When I first started my Master’s Degree I wondered why I agreed to do it as it involves a lot of hard work on evenings and weekends, but looking back it’s been one of my greatest achievements and something I’d never had thought I would have had an opportunity to do.

'Out & Proud'

I identify as a Gay man and have been ‘out’ since 1989. I faced a lot of stigma and discrimination at work during my time as a supermarket manager, my staff were great and really supportive but senior managers were less so.

During my time working for Newcastle Hospitals it has been a completely different story. Everyone I’ve come into contact with has been fantastic and very supportive. I love the fact I can be myself and not have to worry about what people will think (I even get chance to play the odd bits of Eurovision in the office).

The introduction of the LGBT Staff network and been a really positive step forward, it’s a privilege to be part of it and having the backing of senior management in the Trust is amazing. Pride this year was another big milestone because even though the New Croft Sexual Health Service has attended the event offering STI testing for the last 4 years, this year for the first time Newcastle Hospitals was represented at Pride with a stall in the market place.

I’d like to encourage anyone who would like to join us and become part of the LGBT Network to do so. It will give you an opportunity to have a voice and suggest ways in which the Trust can improve the working environment so more people feel comfortable being ‘out’ at work.


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