Support Our Sisters (SOS) project

Support Our Sisters (SOS): A Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Specialist Psychosocial Service in Salford, Greater Manchester | A Pilot project

Narratives of women whose mental health has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research Team

  • Dr Peggy Mulongo, PhD, MSc, DipHE, RMN
  • Professor Sue McAndrew, PhD, MSc, BSc Hons, RMN
  • Dr Roxanne Khan, PhD, MSc, BSc Hons, CPsychol, CSci
  • Professor Mick McKeown, PhD, BA, RMN, RGN

Commissioners

NHS Salford, Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

Contractors

NESTAC (New Step for African Communities), Registered Charity No. 1110686

Supporting materials:

Methodology

A focus group discussion took place with seven women recruited from a specialist service for women at risk of, and/or affected by FGM, in Salford, a city located in the Northwest of England. The women were predominantly Muslim, aged between 25 years to 55 years, and were of Black-African and south-Asian heritage.

Findings

The focus group discussion was analysed using thematic analysis. Three major themes emerged: (1) Positive testing, negative interpretation, (2) COVID-19 Lockdowns, and (3) Lack of accurate information.

Conclusions

The study provided insight into the lived experiences of women living in the Northwest of England during the COVID-19 lockdown, in a community in which a high rate FGM is reported to occur. The study identified a range of issues that professionals should explore to better understand how to support the mental health needs of women affected by FGM during pandemics, such as the COVID-19 crisis, in a culturally competent way, without stigmatising their personal beliefs or local communities, and to avoid racial profiling of affected communities.

To enquire about this guidance, please contact Dr Peggy Mulongo: info@nestac.org.uk