Female Genital Mutilation Project

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is first and foremost a violation of girls’ and women’s human rights. There is no developmental, religious or health-related justification for the harmful practice.
FGM is the total or partial removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
FGM poses immediate risks to girls’ health including severe pain and bleeding, difficulty in passing urine, infections, and even death due to haemorrhagic or neurogenic shock.
The practice often leaves girls with long-term scars as well: post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, HIV infection, cysts, abscesses, genital ulcers, etc. They face an increased risk of complications affecting their menstrual cycles, sometimes resulting in infertility.
FGM is particularly common within African community, where nearly three in every four girls undergo the procedure. With immigration, it has spread to United Kingdom in general and Kent in particular, with some families having their daughters undergo the procedure while on vacation overseas.
Girls interviewed said they were forced, their parents threatened to stop them from going to School unless they were mutilated. Due to the parent’s ignorance or negligence as well as the girls lack of knowledge of prevention FGM and their constitutional rights they become victims and scarred for life.
Health Action Charity Organisation (HACO), is working to protect African girls and young women in Medway from the dangers of FGM through education and leadership training.
This practice a criminal offense. The first ever person convicted for female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK has been given an 11-year jail sentence.
The mother from Uganda, who was found guilty of cutting her three-year-old daughter, was also handed a further two years other offences – including distributing an indecent image of a child.
We are going to carry out a one-day interactive conference with faith leaders, local African community members and police to explore how we can effectively work together to campaign against FGM and eradicate the risk of harm to women and girls.
Within a period of 12 months, the project will also train 10 FGM community champions from communities where FGM is practiced champions to raise awareness and support communities to end the FGM practice
FGM is carried out for cultural and social reason within the communities and there is no religious requirement for it.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non- medical reasons (WHO) It is also sometimes referred to as female genital cutting or female circumcision. There is no health benefit to FGM, and it is recognised internationally as a human rights violation
It is estimated that globally over 125 million women and girls had already undergone FGM and further 3million are at risk of undergoing the practice every year.
It is estimated that 137,000 women in the UK are affected by FGM. I am one of those women that is why I am spear heading the campaign in Medway.
In order to fully engage in our community outreach, work we are going to train dedicated team of community champions to raise awareness and support communities to end the FGM practice. The champions will be provided with skills and training to maximize their capacity and fully will be fully supported throughout their roles.
We will also recruit volunteer champions from outside the FGM practicing communities as we live in cosmopolitan UK society it is necessary for those not affected or at risk of FGM to understand what their peers are experiencing in order to help break down the stigma surrounding FGM and to recognise those in need of support.
Our FGM champions will be encouraged to engage in variety of tasks, including hosting and volunteering during Sister Circles (women only discussions) and Boys2Men talks; raising awareness through distributing posters and leaflets; public speaking at community, religious and cultural events and utilizing creative platforms such as poetry, arts and music to widen access to a range of audiences.
This project is funded through Tampon Tax Community Fund
FGM SEMINAR-page-001 (1)


Hidden truth is a project for African and non-African men living in Medway who are in abusive relationship. They meet once a month to socialise and get training on assertiveness, health and safety etc. It is a support Network that provides information, one to one support, counselling and available options to victims to prevent mental ill-health, alcohol dependency and reduce isolation. This is the first and one of its’ kind in the Medway.
When talking about Domestic violence we often refer to the victim of abuse as female, the abuser as male. We have realised that there are many men within our community who are either current victims of domestic abuse or have survived and escaped an abusive relationship; there are no support system for them in the area.
Many of the effects of abuse for the male victim of domestic violence are the same as for women.
A lot of male victims of abuse however, have great difficulty defining it as such. This is partially due to the image our African society generally has of a Man. Men are often thought of as strong, domineering and macho. Boys, even at a young age, are taught that it is unmanly to cry (“big boys don’t cry”). To many Africans, the idea of a grown man being frightened or vulnerable is a taboo.
The idea to embark on the project originated form one of the Faith leaders in Medway who have been overwhelmed by the number of men coming to him to seek advice about their situation at home. Within the African communities it is uncommon for men to be at the receiving end. HACO was asked to step in and get something done in other to bring the situation to the public so that whoever is in a similar situation will not go and kill them as a Zimbabwe man did in Sheffield because he could not take the humiliation anymore
Expected Outcomes
• The information on Men abuse will increase their skills and confidence. They will know what to do if they are caught up in a violent relationship and where to go for help.
• As the names of the project indicate (The Hidden Truth) will now be an open truth. Victims will know that they are not alone, that there are many men out there like them.
hidden secrets


Health Action Charity Organisation MBE (HACO) has broadened its strategic position from HIV prevention and support to focus on improving the general health and wellbeing of Africans living in the Medway area.
This change in direction follows HACO members’ own changing priorities locally.
There are still high rates of HIV amongst Africans, but recent improvements to HIV treatment mean that people living with HIV can expect to live longer. This is coupled with the documented susceptibility of people living with HIV to other related health conditions and issues which means it is no longer possible to address HIV in isolation.
The African community is also disproportionately and adversely affected by other health conditions, including sickle cell anemia and heart disease. Though HACO will still work on HIV and sexual health, emphasis will be on awareness and prevention of cancer, diabetes, stroke and mental health.
However, as our work develops, we continue to be led by our members and community and so we will develop new work streams concentrating on other health conditions and issues that affects our community.
We are at present carrying out projects on Domestic Abuse and support group for men in abusive relationships. This support group is for anyone from all background living in Medway. With funding from Tampon Tax community Fund, we are also addressing the issue of Female Genital Mutilation as it affects the African communities in Medway. See attached information flyers
Our African community-led responses to HIV have achieved significant successes and continue to represent the most effective means of responding to HIV in the African communities.
Mental Health
Mental health should be one of African community health priority. Black Africans have the highest rate of access to hospital in-patient care for those in contact with mental health services, at 16.5 per 100 mental health service users, compared with 8.5 in the White British group.
Currently there is not enough research being done into the impact of Stroke on the African community or the extent to which Africans know about stroke and its risk factors. This is going to be one of HACO’s priorities this year.
African and African-Caribbean people are up to three times more likely than the general population to have Type 2 diabetes. HACO notes the worrying evidence that Africans are at a twofold risk of diabetes – genetic and socio- economic.
The disproportionate levels of breast and prostate cancer in people of African origin warrant a specific, targeted and immediate response. Watch out for our Cancer awareness project coming soon.

We look forward to working with you all to improve the health and well being of Africans living in the Medway area. If you want to work with us, we are open to partnership working for the benefit of our community. You can e-mail or call us on 01634 844044


This project will raise awareness of domestic violence among the African communities in Medway, work with other service providers (housing, CAB, Shelter etc.) to meet their immediate needs. and also support victims by giving them relevant information about services that will provide them with both emotional and support through the transition of leaving the abusive partner.
We aim to:
• Work in partnership with service providers in mental health and substance use services to improve their ability to support survivors of violence and abuse.
• Develop new work that recognises combinations of disadvantage that go beyond mental health and problematic substance use.
• Influence policy makers in Medway to ensure that public policy solutions around multiple disadvantages reflect the experience of women and girls who have survived violence and abuse
We will do this through
Awareness and advocacy initiatives that will include a variety of programs to improve community response. Presenting information, enlisting community and religious organizations to spread information. This initiative will encourage victims to speak out and seek help
Training for Staff and volunteers and relevant up-to-date information on domestic abuse on our website
Survivor consultation, policy briefings, consultation responses and resources on working with people experiencing mental health problems and/or problematic substance use who are affected by gender-based violence and abuse.
A bi-monthly HACO e-newsletter on violence against women and girls for practitioners working with people affected by multiple disadvantages.
Providing information about services to address physical / emotional trauma by enabling women to leave an abusive relationship if need be.
Providing crisis hotline to call in an emergency. Women who have experienced domestic violence require social support in the forms of one-on-one and group therapy.
Providing adequate service to help women plan for and cope after leaving an abusive relationship because this can be exceedingly difficult, and the multiple disadvantages make it even more difficult.
Empowering victims to protect themselves from harm by providing information that will help women find temporary or permanent shelter, workforce training, and volunteering opportunities and legal advocacy.
Effecting policy work to embed the voices and views of people affected by multiple disadvantages and gender-based violence at a local level.
Working with local mental health organisations in Medway to improve mental health responses to domestic and sexual violence.
Improving access to housing for women affected by multiple disadvantages who are experiencing housing issues.
Developing an internal policy on partner notification of HIV status for clients in abusive relationship, 30% HIV positive women being abused started at the point of disclosing their status to their partners.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviours that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
Should I report Domestic Violence?
Whether you’re a victim of domestic violence or merely an observer, you should report domestic violence the moment the first punch is thrown. Call 911 immediately and tell the operator every detail you can about the abuser, the situation, and the violent acts performed, including whether or not a weapon was involved.

Women, HIV, and Violence
There are several ways in which violence and HIV are connected for women. Women who are abused or fear a violent response may not be comfortable asking their partner to use protection (e.g., a condom) during sex. Similarly, women in abusive relationships may not be comfortable saying no to sex if their abusive partner refuses to use protection when asked. Lastly, forced sex acts can cause cuts, scrapes, or tears that make it easier for HIV to enter the body. All of these issues can put women at higher risk for HIV and make living with HIV more difficult.

How to report Domestic Violence

Domestic abuse: how to get help

For more information on this service call us on 01634 844044 0r E-mail info@healthaction.co.uk



Please note, we operate with a small part-time staff team and therefore sometimes it is not easy to reach us on the telephone. However, if you leave a message someone will call you back. You can also communicate with us by email to info@healthaction.co.uk

Wanted – help with survey on long-term use of prescription medicines

Adults in the UK who use antiretroviral prescription medicines for their long-term condition are being invited to take part in an anonymous on-line survey which is attempting to find out day-to-day experiences of medication use.
The questionnaire is being run by four final year students on an MPharm course at the Medway School of Pharmacy, which is part of the Universities of Greenwich and Kent in Medway.
The findings will support the Medicines Optimisation agenda developed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and endorsed by NHS England. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society initiative is supporting an NHS call for optimised use of medicines in order to improve people’s experiences of care.
The survey should only take 10 to 15 minutes to complete and it is being supervised by Dr Barbra Katusiime and Dr Rebecca Cassidy at the University of Kent.
You can find a link to the survey here:

https://survey.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5i3kfpm6Qfk4GjPHowdoyoufeelaboutyourmedicines-page-001 (1)

Sexual Health and HIV. Reducing the impact of HIV and sexually transmitted Infections (STI)

As one of the providers of the Medway Integrated Sexual Health Service by Kent Community NHS Foundation Trust , we provide HIV prevention, community outreach, testing, support and expert advice one-to-one and in group settings.

Meeting people where they live and work is a really effective way of spreading key messages around sexual health, and generating increased demand for and access to services. Using staff members and volunteers with strong local knowledge and a good rapport with people in the community, we are able to make connections, raise awareness and refer to services.
The organisation’s outreach teams start conversations, and disseminates information about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. HACO enables safer sex by distributing condoms and we recognise that many people will not be comfortable in the clinical setting so we make available home sampling kits. We work across London to make sure people have the information and materials they need to stay healthy, happy and safe.
Testing Services
When diagnoses can be made early, everyone benefits. Making sure that everyone can access testing services is vitally important.
For an individual early diagnosis means that they can access the treatment and care required to either cure or manage their condition. Receiving treatment as early as possible produces the best health outcomes. When people are aware of their health status, they are able to make informed choices that benefit people in their lives. On the public health level, early diagnosis and access to treatment reduces costs of healthcare in the long-term.
HACO offers free and instant HIV/AIDS tests in the community setting, along with a variety of other screening options as part of the Medway Integrated Sexual Health Services .

Support Groups

Sharing experiences and hearing the journeys of other people living with HIV can be really helpful in allowing an individual to come to terms with their diagnosis and get the most out of life. Support groups provide a confidential and friendly space for individuals to talk through their issues and be supported by their peers, safe in the knowledge that they will not face judgement or embarrassment. Our support groups create this dynamic, while offering expert advice and support.
Within the support group setting, a structured programme of workshops and talks makes available a wide range of topics and information. While we cover a broad array of topics, our workshops are all designed to help individuals to access the opportunities and information they need to live life to the full. In the past we have ran workshops on mindfulness and well-being, housing, and entering education or training


We are open on
Mondays 9.30 am to 3 pm
Tuesdays 9.30 am to 3pm
Wednesdays 9.30 am to 3pm
Thursdays 9.30 am to 3pm
Fridays CLOSED
Please note, we operate with a small part-time staff team and therefore sometimes it is not easy to reach us on the telephone. However, if you leave a message someone will call you back. You can also communicate with us by email to info@healthaction.co.uk

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)


What Is Post-Exposure Prophylaxis?

PEP involves taking anti-HIV drugs as soon as possible after you may have been exposed to HIV to try to reduce the chance of becoming HIV positive

For a variety of reasons, people without HIV may engage in unprotected intercourse with a partner they know has HIV or who may have. Such situations include sexual assault, condom failure, the heat of the moment, and finding out a partner is HIV positive after sex.

In such circumstances people may benefit from post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). In order to take PEP people need to know about it, to appreciate the costs and benefits of taking it, and to be able to access it and take it correctly.

To be effective, PEP must begin within 72 hours of exposure, before the virus has time to rapidly replicate in your body. PEP consists of 2-3 antiretroviral medications and should be taken for 28 days.

Your doctor will determine what treatment is right for you based on how you were exposed to HIV. The medications have serious side effects that can make it difficult to finish the program.

PEP is not 100% effective; it does not guarantee that someone exposed to HIV will not become infected with HIV

PEP can also be used to treat people who may have been exposed to HIV by accident (e.g., condom breakage) or sexual assault.