Throughout the period of 2015-2016, the FGM project focused mainly on raising the awareness of the Somali community about the new UK strategy regarding FGM, training professionals and schools.
To help the community members to understand the UK FGM legislations and procedures, SDS has organised a mini-conference about FGM. External experts from NHS, the Leicester Safeguarding Board and the Police have been invited. The participants have learnt the health effect of FGM on women/girls, the aim of the FGM Act, the UK FGM strategy, the national/local FGM procedures, safeguarding issues surrounding FGM, the role of the police in the FGM and how the mainstream organisations can engage the community in this campaign.
SDS has engaged professionals from different schools, students and parents of these young people into the campaign against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). SDS staff have done presentations in 4 schools and information materials have been distributed with the aim to give the participants the accurate information and to raise awareness of the professionals working in these schools, young people and parents about this practice so that, they can safeguard the young people who could be at risk.
During this period, a workshop about FGM has been organised for the Somali youth girls. The participants of these workshops received information about safeguarding issues surrounding FGM and how they could protect themselves and their family members against female genital mutilation and what they could do if someone they know becomes a victim of this practice.
On 21st of January 2016, SDS has organised a workshop about FGM for 15 Nursery workers. Since they were working with children under 4 years old, SDS wanted to educate them about the risk of FGM on these young children. It has been explained to them about their responsibility in the safeguarding of children and the new mandatory report. Although some of them didn’t agree with the mandatory report and were saying that the community will be targeted, but it had been explained to them that, this mandatory report is for the protection of the young girls and everyone working with these young girls has duty to protect them.
On 4th March 2016, FGM youth meeting was held at Somali Development Services. The main aim of the meeting was to discuss the following; –
- A knowledge exchange on FGM and its new legislation.
- The impacts the new legislation will have on Somali families.
A key issue on which the participants unanimously agreed upon was that, inspiration of the community should continue if success in FGM stoppage was to be reached. Furthermore, the session participants emphasised that, there was need for all different sections of the community that include; – local community organisations, mosques, schools, madrassas etc. – to take part in mobilisation of the Somali community.
In addition, it was also raised that, FGM practice had caused a great deal of untold sufferings to innocent mothers and sisters who had been subjected to this practice.
The session participants also said that, FGM campaigns outside the UK should be strengthened so that, the campaign against FGM can be more effective.
In the workshop, it was also raised that, the UK law stipulates that, anyone caught in the practice of FGM will be imprisoned for 14 years and parents may have their kids taken away.
In the session, a case involving a Somali family was discussed. The family went for a holiday and on their return journey, they were suspected of having taken their kids to undergo FGM. The case resulted from the family’s inconvenience and delay until their flights were missed.
SDS staff have participated in Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) staff conference. The slogan of the conference was ‘Walk in my shoes’ and the aim was to show the commissioners the difficulties that the Somali community is experiencing when they are accessing the NHS services. SDS staff has hosted a table and spoke with the commissioners in Somali (so that the commissioners could imagine how someone could feel when they couldn’t speak the English language) and then explained to them what they have said in English. Furthermore, SDS staff has chosen some scenarios illustrating the problems that the Somali community is experiencing when they are accessing NHS services. The interaction of the commissioners was very successful (more than 50 people benefited) and it was an occasion for SDS to build up its network and to share information.
SDS is a member of different consortiums and participated in their meetings. These consortiums will tackle diverse issues, like youth unemployment, youth problems in general and families. The membership of these consortiums will be a chance for SDS to work in partnership with other organisations, to secure more funding, to improve its network and to share experience and expertise with the other members.
SDS is member of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) FGM Finish and Task Group. The aim of this group is to develop a new guideline for the professionals working with the affected communities. SDS contributed into this and how the mainstream organisations could engage the affected communities, what are the major problems that these communities are experiencing and which approach they need to have when engaging these communities?
- Increased access to the suitable services for the disadvantaged people
- Awareness within the community on different subjects, that include; – health and FGM has increased
- A reduction in social isolation and inequality
- More empowerment of women, families and the community at large
- Increased collaborative work between SDS and other organisations
- Increased number of families supported through outreach into different parts of the local community
- A reduced risk of children becoming victims of FGM and the promotion of the safeguarding of children.