Suffolk C-Card Scheme
Free condoms for under 25s
What is it?
The Suffolk c-card scheme is a free condom distribution service run by Terrence Higgins Trust Suffolk, aimed at improving the sexual health and condom access to young people living or accessing services in Suffolk. It is freely accessible to any young person aged between 13-24 years old.
There are many other forms of contraception including pills, injections, and implants, and these are prescribed by a doctor or nurse. Condoms however, are the only type of contraception that can both prevent pregnancy and protect against most sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They are also readily available and can be easily used by anyone, without the help of a health worker. When used correctly every time you have sex, male condoms are 98% effective (femidoms are 95% effective).
How does it work?
The c-card scheme is easy to sign up to and means you can get free condoms, dams, femidoms and lube until your 25th birthday. There are loads of outlets across Suffolk including student services and many pharmacies; which are usually identified by a poster or window sticker with the c-card logo displayed. For a map of outlets visit - https://www.icash.nhs.uk/contraception-sexual-health/c-card-scheme/c-card-suffolk
You’ll be asked a few simple questions like your name and age (nothing too embarrassing!) and this will be kept completely confidential. We then make sure you have the right information about clinics, who to speak to about emergency contraception and other issues. We also make sure you have all the information you need to ensure your condom use is as effective as possible, by providing a demonstration of how to use one (okay that bit can be a bit embarrassing, but we’ve done it so many times before it’s really no big deal!). You get given a bank card sized card and you can then use this to get your free condoms at any of our outlets across Suffolk.
Outreach workers from Terrence Higgins Trust often visit different locations around Suffolk offering drop-in sessions. Ask them about the c-card scheme when you see them.
How can I stay safer?
Condoms should be used with water-based lubricant as supplied on the c-card scheme, as oil-based lube can weaken them. Condoms come in a variety of types and sizes. We even have Latex free condoms for those with an allergy to latex. It’s important you find the right condom for you and any partners.
Condoms and Femidoms don’t take away all the risk however, as some STIs are passed on through skin to skin contact. So it’s recommended that you have a regular sexual health screen. iCaSH Suffolk (Integrated Contraception and Sexual Health) run a weekly walk-in clinic for people under 25, every Thursday between 3pm and 6pm from the Terrence Higgins Trust office at 3-9 Arcade Street, Ipswich IP1 1EX. For further information about this clinic, please call 0300 1233650 during office hours. (Please note that you cannot book an appointment though Terrence Higgins Trust for this clinic, and the clinic only runs on the advertised day!).
If your condom breaks, you could take emergency contraception to reduce the risk of pregnancy. The emergency contraceptive pill is available free from GPs, sexual health clinics, or young person’s clinics. Some pharmacies will provide it free to young people under 19, and some schools may also be able to provide it via the school nurse. It is available to buy at pharmacies if you are aged 16 or older - but this can be expensive, as most charge around £26.
It is important to remember that if you need the emergency contraceptive pill it is you that has to see the doctor or pharmacist. Nobody else can get it for you. It is not something you should use in place of regular contraception because it is not as effective in preventing pregnancy, and offers no protection against STIs.
So, what’s not to like? Free condoms, femidoms, dams and lube until your 25th birthday - don’t miss out, sign up today!!