Arc news: January 2015


Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in the UK

Thanks to new funding, Arc is now preparing to help both Primary and Secondary school teachers and staff deal with FGM by way of INSETs in the London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham and Havering.

Arc's FGM funding has been awarded by Rosa: the UK fund for women and girls, supported by Comic Relief, and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). “We are delighted at Arc Theatre to have been awarded Rosa and DCLG funding to deliver Secondary and Primary school teacher and staff INSET training on the issue of Female Genital Mutilation.  We know that teachers have identified the need for assistance in tackling FGM and we are now able to bring the information direct to school staff in a coherent, concise, manageable form, with resources that can be easily shared.” Natalie Smith - Arc’s Education Director

“In a recent borough network meeting of PSHE co-ordinators this was a need identified by the co-ordinators themselves.  While schools are aware of their duties regarding FGM, it is important that this is supported by training opportunities for teachers, who are in the classroom, teachers who will be supporting and answering the questions of children and young people.  PSHE Teachers in Barking and Dagenham would be confident in training facilitated by Arc, an organisation already highly respected by these staff." Jo Caswell - Health and Personal Development Adviser, LBBD

Rosa: the UK fund for women and girls
Just under £5,000 has been awarded to Arc to facilitate two specially devised INSETs in each Borough for Secondary school workers thanks to Rosa’s FGM Small Grants Programme, supported by Comic Relief.  Rosa is the only UK-wide charitable fund supporting initiatives benefitting women and girls in the UK.  The FGM Small Grants Programme seeks to help voluntary and community organisations to:

  • become more confident, knowledgeable and skilled in tackling FGM;
  • improve their skills in engaging with, and lobbying, relevant statutory bodies to adopt appropriate responses to FGM;
  • help to form a unified movement of organisations tackling FGM. 


Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)
Just under £5,000 has also been awarded to Arc to bring two INSETs in each Borough for Primary school workers, thanks to the DCLG’s ‘Community projects to tackle female genital mutilation and forced marriage’ fund.  Arc’s school training programme was announced by Communities Minister Stephen Williams (5 December 2014) as one of the 17 frontline community projects that will receive a share of £270,000 to help end FGM and ‘honour’ based violence by creating a network of community champions.

“I first became aware of female genital mutilation when a teacher came to one of my MP surgeries and I was introduced to a group of girls who had decided to campaign against FGM.  I was horrified at what I heard about this deeply embedded cultural practice.  This practice has no medical benefits; indeed it results in great pain and distress as well as causing medical complications during child birth.  That’s why I am proud that this government is making good on its pledge at the International Girl Summit to invest in these valuable projects, which will change hearts and minds in local communities, train frontline workers and help bring an end to this terrible practice." Communities Minister Stephen Williams


About FGM
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It's also known as female circumcision, cutting or sunna.  Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given for FGM.  However, FGM is child abuse.  It's dangerous and it's a criminal offence.  There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM.  It doesn't enhance fertility and it doesn't make childbirth safer. It is used to control female sexuality and can cause severe and long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health.  FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985.  In 2003 it also became a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to have female genital mutilation. Anyone found guilty of the offence faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

24,000 girls under 15 could be at risk of FGM in England and Wales and 66,000 women could be living with the consequences of FGM.

Watch this space for more information about the INSETs planned for this Spring/Summer, or email Theresa Snooks to register your name and contact details if you are a Barking & Dagenham or Havering school worker.

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