Croydon have appointed its first specialist social worker to lead its preventative work against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The specialist took up their post last week and their work will primarily focus on helping those who have undergone FGM, and supporting those living in fear of this crime, say the council.
The social worker will also engage with residents, providing guidance and advice by working closely with community groups across the borough.
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.
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.
Cllr David Wood, deputy cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities, said: “This innovative new post as a strong addition to our safeguarding service.
“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.”
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.
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
(Source: Croydon council press release)