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PCC joins partners to share expertise on FGM at national conference


PCC Sue Mountstevens with Avon and Somerset Police DCI Leanne Pook

Female genital mutilation is the focus of a national conference that will see key speakers share their experience and expertise on the subject, including Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens.

The event, which will take place on Thursday October 2, has been organised for professionals from all over the country who are working to end female genital mutilation (FGM).

The conference at @Bristol is the first opportunity for FGM professionals to meet and share their experiences and ideas. The audience will be drawn from health, social care, police as well as community groups.

Sue Mountstevens said: "This conference will be an opportunity for us to look at how we can better tackle FGM and the fact it was held in Bristol speaks volumes about the progress we’re beginning to make. None of us can fight FGM on our own and I welcome the opportunity to get together and discuss it.

"Health, education, the police and the community all need to play their part. Tackling sexual and domestic abuse – which includes FGM – is a priority for me and I welcome the collective effort being made to focus on the issue and help protect the women and girls at risk from what is a vile practice."

The event marks an incredible year for FGM when it has become prominent on the national and international agenda. 2014 saw the well-publicised Girl Summit when Prime Minister David Cameron announced a package to protect girls in the UK and abroad from FGM and forced marriage. It was also the year when Fahma Mohammed of Integrate Bristol met education minister Michael Gove and he agreed to write to all schools in England and Wales to highlight the risks of FGM this summer.

Speakers at the event include:

  • Nimco Ali, founding member of Daughters of Eve and Bristol campaigner, who is chairing the event.
  • Fahma Mohammed, of Integrate Bristol, who made headlines when was invited to see then education minister Michael Gove and insisted that letters were written to all schools in England and Wales to highlight risk of FGM this summer
  • Addresses from Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Bristol Mayor George Ferguson.

As well as representatives from:

  • Avon and Somerset Police who will be showing 400% increase in flagging of potential FGM referrals from 2009 to 2014
  • Health – Bristol has been ahead of the country on auditing FGM in maternity services
  • Community Groups – that have led the way in working within the community and empowering women and girls
  • Schools – who have been in the forefront of informing and empowering school children.

The national conference in Bristol is featuring work and practice in the city. School students from Bristol have been prominent in the FGM work. Girls from Integrate Bristol have been giving talks all over the country including at Cambridge University as well as taking part in television programmes for UK (including BBC Newsnight), France and Germany.

Young women from Integrate Bristol and Empowering have been instrumental in the successful re Girl Summit, attended by Prime Minister David Cameron, which featured the pledge to stamp out FGM in a generation.

Lisa Zimmermann, Bristol school teacher who is co-founder of Integrate Bristol said: "My feeling was that during the summit and afterward there was a global shift and a sense of excitement that things are definitely changing and there is no turning back."

Bristol has been at the forefront of campaigning for a stop to FGM for more than five years. Integrate Bristol is now contacting new education secretary Nicky Morgan to press for future changes and putting FGM on the curriculum.

The conference is being is being hosted by local agencies pioneering work in this field, including Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group, Bristol City Council, Avon and Somerset Police as well as Integrate Bristol, Daughters of Eve and Forward.

Nimco Ali, from Daughters of Eve and conference chair, said: "There is a critical window of opportunity to unite actors at global, regional, national and local levels, to End FGM. I believe that we will End FGM for a Generation. We have broken the cycle in my family and others can as well."

Jackie Mathers, Designated Nurse for safeguarding children at Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for professionals to get together and share their experiences and good practice as well as finding out more about the Bristol Model. We are delighted that young girls from the community are taking part in the conference and will be able to network with professionals from all over the country."

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol said: "I am proud to be able to say that Bristol is known throughout the UK for being at the forefront of campaigning against FGM, largely because of the action that young women and girls have taken themselves to give prominence to this issue. The type of multi-agency working in this area, known as the Bristol Model, is invaluable and I would like to see it replicated in other parts of the country.

"What is most important of all is that the Bristol Model places community empowerment at its heart. It recognises that communities affected by FGM are part of the solution and not the problem. I am also calling for all men in the communities at risk to help bring about an end to this cruel practice of FGM."

One Bristol woman will share her experience of having an FGM "opening" at a local clinic the Bristol Community Rose Clinic, which was named by the local community and commissioned by Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group.Women from local communities have helped develop the service from the start and they remain actively involved and this work has been supported by Layla Ismail of FORWARD.

Public Health England’s Knowledge and Intelligence Team for the South West will also present a report on FGM data for Bristol which includes latest figures for the estimated number of school girls and pre school children potentially at risk of FGM.  The public health report which will be presented to the conference was funded by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner.

The day will feature seminars and Q&A sessions focussing on:

  • Community engagement and empowering people to make positive change
  • Young people’s empowerment and national campaigning
  • Safeguarding and partnership working
  • FGM in health settings
  • The importance of schools; engaging parents and preventing FGM through relationships and sex education
  • Improving the reporting of FGM in multi-agency settings
Posted on Wednesday 1st October 2014
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