Born in 1907, Helen was a volunteer at the Family Planning Association throughout the 1950s when the organisation was limited to giving advice to married women. In 1958, following the death of fellow contraceptive pioneer Marie Stopes, Helen saw an opportunity to set up a new clinic, outside the limitations of the FPA, which would offer advice to unmarried women. Her first clinics, run in Stopes’ old offices, offered advice to unmarried women and then started to offer ‘secret’ sessions for young women.
In 1964 she opened the first Brook Advisory Clinic, specifically offering advice to young people. The clinic was highly controversial at the time but gained the support of the medical establishment. Helen died in 1997 having dedicated her life to the clinics. Brook has services throughout the UK and sees over 275,000 young people a year as well as campaigning on health and relationship matters on behalf of people under 25. In July 1989, Helen came onto Woman’s Hour to tell Helen Boaden about the early days of family planning.