Croydon has appointed its first specialist social worker to lead its preventative work against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The specialist takes up their post this week and their work will primarily focus on helping those who have undergone FGM, and supporting those living in fear of this crime.
The social worker will also engage with residents, providing guidance and advice by working closely with community groups across the borough.
FGM is a procedure, where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed for no medical reason and it is practised across many different cultures. It is illegal in the UK and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison for carrying it out, or helping it to take place. It is also illegal to take someone out of the country to make them have FGM in a country where it isn’t against the law.
In Croydon there are estimated to be 3,480 females who have been affected by FGM at some point in their lives. Within the past two years Croydon’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) received 122 referrals where FGM was the greatest concern for that individual or family.
A study by City University in 2015 estimated that from 2005 to 2013 there were 827 girls born to women with FGM in Croydon, and that in 2011 alone there were 136 girls between the ages of 0-14 years with FGM living in Croydon.
“I am pleased our FGM specialist will be embedding themselves into the local community where they will be best placed to build trust and offer help to those affected and at risk of this procedure, as well as assisting colleagues in health, the police, education, social care and other frontline services.”
Councillor David Wood, deputy cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities
The new post will be based in Croydon’s Early Help team and will also support social workers in responding appropriately to cases. It is jointly funded by the council and the National FGM Centre – a joint partnership between Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association.
Leethen Bartholomew, Head of the National FGM Centre, said: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Croydon Council and associated organisations and communities so that we can help professionals to continue the work they are doing to keep children and young people safe from harmful practices.”
As part of the role, the social worker will also help to develop preventative work in cases involving breast flattening and child abuse linked to faith or belief and will also work with the African Youth Development Association, who have led the community on FGM awareness raising for many years; Forward, the leading African-women-led organisation working to end violence against women and girls, and Croydon’s BME Forum.
The specialist’s expertise and guidance will also benefit the Croydon Partnership Early Help’s FGM steering committee, which includes representatives from health, education, children’s social care and the community.
If you are concerned about FGM, and would like support, please see the following sites.
For Children’s Social Care and Early Help
For Adult Social Care