FGM /C Community Mediators & Advocates
WHFS (Women’s Health & Family Services) began engaging and supporting communities in Tower Hamlets affected by FGM /C (female genital mutilation /cutting) as a direct result of our community outreach work, which highlighted this as a growing concern in 2012.
We work with both men and women to help end this debilitating practice, supported by WHFS staff and volunteers from FGM /C practising communities. We also work in partnership with other organisations to promote and improve the health of affected women.
Community Mediators & Advocates
This 18-month project runs until 30th December 2016 and is funded by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH). The main aims are to develop a “joined up” referral service for health professionals, increase the support and advice we can offer to women and continue our awareness-raising of the negative health impact of FGM /C, with the emphasis on engaging families, especially men. In particular, the project will enable WHFS to:
- Develop a referral pathway for health professionals to identify women who require support to attend specialist FGM /C clinics in Tower Hamlets (including pregnant FGM /C survivors);
- Work alongside social workers to refer women to the appropriate services for help and advice;
- Recruit and train female FGM /C Peer Supporters to provide emotional and practical support to enable women to seek help for their FGM /C-related health issues;
- Support women when attending hospital for a “reversal” (defibrillation) procedure;
- Support women who have undergone FGM /C, including one-to-one counselling;
- Reach local women from FGM /C-practising communities to offer support and advice through sessions at schools, community centres and mosques;
- Recruit and train male volunteer Peer Supporters to deliver awareness-raising sessions in male-only environments;
Specialist clinics to treat FGM /C (including for pregnant women)
Working in partnership with our Patron, Dr Geetha Subramanian MBE, and Dr Janet Barter from Mile End Hospital, WHFS has established a referral pathway for women with FGM /C-related health problems to be treated at two specialist clinics at the Royal London and Mile End Hospitals. Both clinics run once a month, with the clinic at the Royal London primarily for pregnant FGM /C survivors.
If you are a health professional (doctor, nurse, midwife, social worker, etc.) and would like to know more about the referral pathway, or would like to refer a woman to our services, please click here to download our Referral Form.
“Breaking the Silence” community awareness sessions
Our community sessions have been highly successful, with attendances far outreaching our targets. Sessions have been held in schools, community centres and mosques. Please see our Events page for details on forth-coming community workshops, or contact us if you would like us to conduct a workshop for your group.
Women seeking support
Most of our work takes place in the community, but if you would like to contact our Project Co-ordinator (details below), she will be happy to discuss how we can help you. We provide emotional and practical support, in particular we support women to attend hospital for treatment.
You can also ask your doctor or nurse to refer you to our service. Please also see our FGM /C Resources & Links page for details on helplines and other organisations offering support for FGM /C health issues.
Making a referral
If you are a health professional (GP, midwife, nurse, social worker, etc.) and would like to refer a woman to our services, please download our Referral Form.
Volunteer Peer Supporters
WHFS has had an overwhelming response to our recruitment for volunteer Peer Supporters, and we currently have a waiting list for these roles. We hope to train more Peer Supporters in 2016, and so please contact us if you would like to get involved. Peer supporters are trained in safeguarding, confidentiality and befriending, and play an important role in supporting women to gain access to health services.
The Law and FGM /C
WHFS raises awareness amongst health professionals about the changes that came into law in October 2015 relating to the reporting of FGM /C. This law states that regulated health professionals, social workers and teachers have a mandatory duty to report to police any girls or women they identify during the course of their professional work as at risk of undergoing FGM (this includes girls under 18 who have undergone FGM). Please click here to read the official FGM Mandatory Reporting Procedural (20 pages).
If you are concerned that you, or someone you know, may be at risk of FGM /C, please click here for details of agencies that provide a confidential helpline.
For more information on our FGM /C work, please contact:
Halima Awad - FGM /C Project Co-ordinator
T: 020 7377 9643
M: 07496 764 876