The 10 boroughs in the Greater Manchester area have coordinated their approach towards FGM to ensure that there is a consistent approach across Greater Manchester to tackling FGM.
Following a multi-agency conference in Manchester, the Greater Manchester Safeguarding Partnership formed the Female Genital Mutilation Forum in 2011. The Forum brings together colleagues working with Adults Services and Children's Services as well as third sector organisations, health partners, community safety teams and the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Forum had two aims when it was created, to raise awareness of FGM and offer a coordinated approach to tackling the issue across the 10 boroughs in Greater Manchester.
Lead by Jaria Hussain-Lala the domestic violence coordinator from Bury Council, the first task for the Forum was to understand what the current prevalence levels were across Greater Manchester. This was done using a range of data from health sector, police, and schools including:
- National insurance registration data
- African live birth data
- Pupil ethnicity data (school census)
- Acute trust data
- Census data.
The discrepancy between the level of prevalence identified through this study and the level of referrals coming into children's service provided the impetus for further work.
- To raise awareness of the issues around FGM, the Forum created an e-learning tool for use across the Greater Manchester area, which was produced in partnership with the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities. The e-learning tool is a foundation level training for all professionals. It provides insight into the key issues and outlines the safeguarding response. The e-learning tool has received good feedback from users and is available through the Virtual College, which is an e-learning provider that 9 of the Greater Manchester boroughs use.
- The Forum has produced a new multi-agency protocol, giving agencies a step by step guide to how they should respond to suspected cases of FGM to ensure that there is a consistent approach across the boroughs. The Forum identified that though people lived in one borough they may use facilities, including hospitals, schools etc in other boroughs, therefore creating a single protocol across the boroughs was key to ensuring that people could always access the right support wherever they lived. The protocol includes general information on FGM, including local terms for the practice, why it is undertaken etc. There are also procedures for professionals, including a decision making flow chart for children's services. This will be used across all agencies to ensure that responses are coordinated and based upon the same principles and standards.
The new protocol – on the Greater Manchester Safeguarding Children Board website
- To ensure that training is consistent across the Greater Manchester area, the Forum has worked with third sector organisations to provide key messages around tackling FGM and the role of agencies in the area.
- St Mary's Manchester hospital provide a service for women who require surgical intervention to enable them to deliver their baby naturally, or to enable them to be sexually active, or to deal with some of the medical complications of FGM.
- The Forum has undertaken a mapping of schools across the boroughs to identify which schools are likely to have a high level of risk. The Forum has also worked to map hospitals. From this work it has developed an action plan to work with communities. Posters and leaflets are displayed in relevant locations, particularly GP surgeries and education establishments where possible.