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Shine Aloud’s much needed message

DETERMINED: Rianna Raymond-Williams

WHILE IN her early teens, Rianna Raymond-Williams began finding out many of her friends were getting pregnant.

Some of them were also contracting sexual transmitted infections (STIs) or ending up in abusive relationships.

“I didn’t want that for myself and I was determined to find out what was behind this,” she told The Voice.

The London resident decided to look into how she could help others her age. That led her to a local group called Shine Aloud.

She attended one of their workshops with a friend in 2009 and was enthralled with the way the charity teaches young people about sexual health and relationships.

She began volunteering with the group soon after that visit.

Now age 20, Raymond-Williams is reaching out to scores of young people, teaching them basics about using a condom, staying abstinent and how they can get STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

“These workshops are so useful, they really teach young people things they never knew before,” she said.

Raymond-Williams has taken this one step further.

Putting her passion for youth work and the media together, she now runs Shine Aloud magazine for young people in the London Borough of Newham.

The online magazine gives free advice about sexual health and relationships.

“The magazine particularly targets disadvantaged young people who would not usually have access to sex education," said Raymond-Williams."

Shine Aloud magazine's first donor was rapper Wretch 32's manager Zeon Richards who gave her £250 as a start up.

But despite this kind-hearted gesture, Raymond-Williams has hit some walls in obtaining funding for the quarterly magazine.

“I want to take this out of east London and publish this magazine across the capital," said Raymond-Williams, a Chlamydia and Gonorrhea screening assistant at sexual health charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT).

"I applied for funding in various places and secured pockets here and there but it's not enough to achieve my goal.” But she is determined to keep going."

“I'm not giving up, I will ask more people and more charities if I can get their support.”

She added: "I feel really passionate about the magazine especially since it covers issues concerning sex and relationships that are often taboo."

“I'm sure it will have a positive impact on young people providing them with sexual health knowledge as well as the opportunity the learn and share issue concerning sex and relationships with their peers".

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