A DRIVE is on to cut unwanted teenage pregnancies in Kirklees.
Newly-appointed official Lynn Englefield is spearheading the campaign.
She will be heading a team of health and social care workers to develop education, training and support services for teenagers, their parents and teachers.
Figures for teen pregnancies are actually falling in Kirklees, but with 306 girls under the age of 18 becoming pregnant in 2001, it's still too many, says Lynn.
She said: "Britain has the worst teenage pregnancy rate in the western world.
"But it is encouraging to see that since the Government launched its teenage pregnancy strategy in 1999 the national and local rates have finally started to fall.
"In Kirklees in 1998, 352 young women under the age of 18 became pregnant. In 2001 this figure was down to 306.
"While some of these pregnancies were planned and the parents manage very well, for many parents it means bringing up their children on low incomes, which brings with it many disadvantages both for the parents and children."
Lynn is based at Huddersfield Central NHS Primary Care Trust and has two teenage daughters.
She has extensive experience in working with young people, both in a hospital setting as a registered sick children's nurse, and in the community as a specialist practitioner for school nursing.
She has recently gained an MSc in health education and health promotion from Leeds Metropolitan University.
Lynn said: "Our local teenage pregnancy strategy aims to meet the Government's target to reduce the number of pregnancies in under-18-year-olds by 50%, by 2010.
"We also want to support young parents in Kirklees to be able to return to their education, which would give them the best opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage."
She added: "A number of organisations are working together to tackle this problem, including local NHS organisations, the council's young people's and education and social services departments, local employment agencies and of course, young people themselves.
"Through this co-ordinated joint approach we plan to make a real difference to the lives of young people in Kirklees."