Social workers will soon have access to expert training on female genital mutilation from a new centre of excellence.
Backed by £2m funding from the Department for Education’s innovation fund, the Local Government Association (LGA) and Barnardo’s will set up the centre, which will pool skilled social workers – with extensive experience of working with those at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) – to offer a national initiative for prevention.
To meet the LGA’s target of eradicating FGM by 2030, these teams will help train social workers in tackling the issue, as well as lead national outreach programmes to educate communities and prevent new cases of FGM.
Local authorities with limited experience of dealing with FGM can come to the centre for advice, or alternatively the cases can be delegated to the expert teams at the centre.
Building professional skills and confidence
This programme will see a “system change” in children’s services and social work, said Lisa Brett, deputy chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board.
It will work on “building the skills and confidence of professionals and creating positive change within communities to ensure the practice is no longer supported by community leaders or parents”.
A central intelligence hub for practitioners to share resources, best practice and receive expert advice will be set up, as well as a forum for girls and women who have been victims of FGM.
“Bringing together professionals across councils, health, education, police and the voluntary sector is a vital step in preventing, protecting and treating girls and women affected by FGM,” Brett said.