Project: Youth and Schools Programme
FORWARD is a third sector organisation making an important contribution to tackling female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK.
FGM can cause significant physical and psychological health complications. It is positioned within the safeguarding agenda and the wider sexual and reproductive health, bodily integrity and wellbeing, improving girls' ability to explore such issues and seek help where necessary.
The Youth and Schools Programme is related to its work with young people which seeks to deliver an early intervention to mitigate health problems sooner and lessen the cumulative effect of long-term health complications - including chronic pelvic infections and inflammation, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
It does this through an education programme which supports schools to create a safe, supportive and ‘open environment’ to talk about FGM, by equipping teachers with the knowledge to better respond to FGM, and by raising awareness of FGM with students.
Schools are a safe place in which to normalise discussions on genitals, and sexual and reproductive health, and can provide the first step for young people to access support. FORWARD therefore believes schools can play an essential role in responding to FGM, safeguarding girls at risk and supporting young people with experience of FGM.
Since 2013 it has worked with 22,000 young people in schools nationally, over 3,750 members of school staff and 9 local authorities. It delivers directly in London and through partnerships in Manchester and Birmingham (with New Step for African Community (NESTAC) and Muslim Women's Network UK respectively, specialist in forms of gender-based violence predominantly affecting women from Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) backgrounds), and support schools and local authorities nationally through advice and guidance, including in Leeds, Nottingham and Reading.
Its main outcome relates to reducing health inequality for BAMER women and girls who are empowered through the programme to overcome often culturally-enforced reluctance to speak about genitals, sexual and reproductive health and FGM, and prioritise their own health and wellbeing.
The programme’s referrals process has been successful at supporting young people to access support services including accompanying girls to specialist clinics or supporting them throughout the decision to undergo a deinfibulation procedure and the aftermath.
This work increases young people's confidence to access healthcare services which can otherwise be intimidating or inaccessible to young people.
This project has also been highly commended in the Public Health Minister's Award 2016.
Project: if: Volunteering for Wellbeing
if: Volunteering for Wellbeing is a unique partnership project delivered by IWM North, Manchester Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry. The training and placement programme supports individuals into learning and volunteering, and away from social and economic isolation.
Recruitment is targeted towards individuals with mental health problems, long term unemployed, young people, over 50s and ex-service personnel. The project's main aim is to help people gain confidence, work experience and new skills to improve health and wellbeing. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this three year project (2013-2016) is now in its final year and has engaged with over 230 people.
Participants are recruited in groups of 15 throughout the year at each venue. They embark on a 10 session bespoke course which develops heritage knowledge, customer service skills, team building and communication skills.
The programme uses the rich resources within museums to stimulate learning. Participants get involved in behind the scenes tours, staff presentations, public programming and visits to partner heritage venues.Overall the project evaluation has demonstrated an increased wellbeing in participants and makes a sound argument that volunteering in heritage venues can and should be used to support individuals facing multiple health and wellbeing barriers.