Bristol has created a "Bristol Model" for tackling FGM, focused on community engagement and empowerment, strong partnership working and developing the right services and resources to tackle the issue at a local level.
The work in Bristol has focused on safeguarding and community engagement to tackle FGM, bringing together statutory agencies across the Bristol area.
Bristol started work on FGM in 2006 with the development of the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board multi-agency guidelines. There was a recognition that more could be done to increase the numbers of referrals and identify potential FGM cases more effectively. This led to a series of multi-agency training events, and an FGM safeguarding and delivery partnership. FGM is now integrated into the wider violence against women and girls agenda.
The partners have created a "Bristol Model" of tackling FGM and further information can be found on the Bristol Against Violence and Abuse (BAVA) website: www.bava.org.uk
The Bristol Model has been characterised by strong community involvement in tackling FGM. Collaboration between statutory bodies and community groups has been key to ensuring that there is a joined up approach towards ending the practice, with professionals and affected communities working together. There has also been recognition that the whole community must be involved in ending FGM with women, men and young people all participating.
FORWARD were commissioned by Bristol's public health team to empower women from FGM affected communities to reach out to their communities and start to talk about the myths around FGM. The Bristol FGM Community Development project
Aims to achieve better health outcomes for girls and women affected by FGM, with respect to the following four specific aims:
- Improve the confidence, knowledge, awareness and self-determination of girls and women affected by FGM and enable them to make informed choices and ask for the services they need.
- Improve the quality of knowledge and understanding of health professionals around FGM, to promote good practice, accessible resources, information and services and good communication between those professions and the communities affected.
- Empower young people with skills, safe space to explore issues pertaining to cultural identity and integration
- Effective project management and evaluation
The Project has had an impact on intensifying changes in attitude and enhancing knowledge and self-determination, particularly for women, and especially Community Health Advocates, as well as health workers and other professionals.
The work in Bristol has also led to the development of appropriate services in the community. The Bristol clinical commissioning group commissioned the Community Rose Clinic to provide specialist advice and treatment for women who had undergone FGM. The community were involved with its creation.
There are also two groups of young people who have engaged in the FGM agenda. Integrate Bristol and the FORWARD project working with young people called ‘EMPOWER', who were instrumental in the Girls Summit held in July 2014.
This work has also led to an increase in referrals to the police, with a 400% increase in flagging of potential FGM referrals from 2009 to 2014.