NHS West Yorkshire ICB: Talking is Healing FGM Campaign
There are an estimated 137,000 women in the UK affected by FGM. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.
Those who survive cutting often have to live with long lasting health problems – physical and emotional pain. As part of a national scheme, NHS England set up an FGM clinic in Leeds to serve the whole of the North of England. The Blossom Clinic provides physical support and treatment, emotional support, counselling and more. We were tasked to create a campaign that would drive referrals to the clinic so that women who had suffered FGM could receive treatment, talk about their experiences and start the healing process.
Women who have suffered FGM are often pressured to keep their pain secret by their families or their own communities. They are told it's a cultural norm and to speak out would be a betrayal. In extreme cases, women may be threatened with punishment or death if they talk about what's happened. Another challenge for the campaign was the sheer breadth of cultures and languages involved. Women who have suffered FGM emerge from countries as far apart as Gambia and Egypt.
The truth about FGM is genuinely shocking and it's easy to become focused on the horrors of the procedure itself. However, we understood that we had a very specific task with our campaign – to reach out and encourage these women to get in touch with the Blossom Clinic, not forgetting that many of them would be in pain, feeling helpless or frightened.
The messaging therefore would have to offer empathy and reassurance. This insight led to the central theme for the campaign – Talking is healing.
At the centre of the campaign is a series of posters featuring survivors of FGM set alongside the names for the practice in different languages – the divided format suggesting that the experience of FGM has left many victims feeling as if they are only half the women they should be.
Based on the central theme 'Talking is healing', the campaign had a clear objective: to increase the number of referrals to the clinic. Following the launch, the Blossom Clinic has seen referrals rise 30% compared to a comparable period before the campaign. That's 30% more women coming forward to receive vital treatment and support.
We also secured £85k of free ad spend from Clear Channel, and the campaign has recently been picked up by ITV news and soon the BBC.