Community Engagement

National FGM Centre

What is Community engagement ?

Community engagement means different things to different people. However, at the National FGM Centre we use it to refer to the process and practice in which individuals of a particular community participate in an intervention programme in order to achieve a common goal. By this definition, our community engagement approach is essentially our tool for facilitating the process of an intervention programme and for achieving specific intervention objectives in preventing FGM and other harmful practices.

At the National FGM Centre we recognise that communities have a wealth of knowledge and resources that can be harnessed to address issues that affect them such as FGM, breast flattening and child abuse linked to faith and religion . Therefore our community engagement methods emphasise a bottom-up and community-led approach to tackling FGM and other harmful practices.

What do we do differently?

We aim to use the REPLACE Cyclic Framework for Social Norm Transformation which has been developed by the University of Coventry in partnership with other partners in the EU. It comprises five elements that represent the flow of motivation and behaviour change within a community, stressing the important role played by community leaders, influential people and peer group champions in achieving social norm transformation.

The number 1

Engaging the Community

Together with grassroots organisations we organise and facilitate  women’s health events, inter faith forums and men’s focus groups. It is our first step for working with community members and involving them to tackle issues that affect them as community champions.

Understanding the social norm perpetuating the harmful practice.

Using Community champions we aim to understand the specific belief systems and enforcement mechanisms that support the continuation of FGM in affected communities using PEER research .PEER research facilitates an effective engagement with community members and an in-depth exploration of various issues on FGM and other harmful practices. The process also empowers and motivates community members to reflect and challenge the social norm.

Community readiness to end the harmful practice

Each Affected community in the UK is different and will be at different stages of readiness to challenge and overturn the social norm supporting the continuation of FGM for example in the. The REPLACE Approach incorporates a Community Readiness  Model based on Stages of Change Models.

Intervention development

The REPLACE Approach to intervention design and implementation is unique in that it draws on and applies theoretical ideas concerning readiness to change, behaviour change and targeting problem behaviour from both individual and community-based theories of behaviour change intervention development. It does this in collaboration with the community of people where change is desired.


i. using the REPLACE Community Readiness to Change  Model to assess a community’s stage of readiness to end FGM or  other harmful practices  at the outset of working with them. This is then repeated after intervention delivery and can be repeated again at later dates to continue to assess shifts at the community level.

ii. Focus groups with community members to gather in depth information concerning their thinking and beliefs. These would be carried out before as well as after interventions where possible to get a richer feel for the nature of the changes within communities.

iii. Questionnaires conducted before and after interventions with those who have participated. These included numerical rating scales to assess things like specific beliefs and open-ended qualitative response items to gain valuable information about the nature of any individual behaviour changes.

iv. Records of the instances of intervention activities, such as the number of community events that are held and the number of people who attended. Over time it might be possible to show increasing engagement and participation in activities designed to end FGM and other harmful practices by community members and if this is the case then there is evidence of community development and change.