The AFRUCA Centre for African Children and Families, Manchester

The AFRUCA Centre for African Children and Families is the branch of AFRUCA working across the North West of England. It is a specialist one-stop shop providing a range of prevention and early intervention projects and services. Our Centre bridges the gap between statutory agencies and the Black/African community in the North West on child protection issues helping to position AFRUCA as a regional, knowledge-based organisation with a strong specialism in the safeguarding of African children.

The AFRUCA Centre is a response to existing gaps in the provision of services for African children and families in the North West. We are very concerned about the growing representation of African children in the child protection system in the region. With the increasing number of African families residing in the area, it is important that they are able to access support services to meet their needs. It is also important that the range of African faith organisations can avail themselves of existing services to ensure their venues can be safe places for children.

The AFRUCA Centre also aims to fill the skills gap that exists among agencies and their staff working with black African children through the provision of a range of specialised services for statutory and non-statutory agencies in the region. Such services include the provision of training programmes, research and publications to provide knowledge on key issues.

Our premises at Phoenix Mill in Ancoats Manchester affords the Centre a good opportunity to serve as a community centre, accommodating our increasing staff team, holding community activities, serving as contact points for families and hosting a range of programmes and activities in collaboration with other agencies, especially the statutory sector.

On top of all AFRUCA projects happening at the centre, it is also a place where African parents come to talk about issues that affect their parenting in the UK with access to a range of literature that helps them to understand the expectations of them as parents in the UK.

We hold consultative meetings with the communities that we work with at the centre and provide a one to one support service for parents and professionals.

Vision of the Centre

The vision for the Centre is to be able to develop planned activities and services from early help to commissioned input to provide opportunities for families to engage in support to change harmful cultural practices and promote positive parenting.

Community Engagement

Our Centre is very keen on engaging with the African community across Greater Manchester on a range of issues. We have held a number of community consultative meetings to discuss approaches to address a range of subject areas. Between June and December 2014, we ran a series of focus group sessions on Female Genital Mutilation with different communities including the Uganda, Nigerian, Sudanese and other groups in our Centre, and with other groups in various other locations. Our new team of Youth Champions will be working from our Centre to reach out to various communities in efforts to raise awareness of Female Genital Mutilation. Our therapeutic services for those who have experienced FGM will take place at our premises. Our newly developing work Child Trafficking will also involve a lot of community engagement work on the issue to help raise awareness and the ability to identify potential victims. Our series of community education programme on child protection and parenting will also have our centre as a hub The issue of the over-representation of black African children in child protection is one AFRUCA has been working to tackle. In collaboration with a range of community organisations, we will continue to provide early help to families before risk escalates. In particular, we want to help tackle the  prevailing issue of inappropriate levels of chastisement within our communities and the reluctance of parents to seek support before risk escalates to crisis point.

These issues highlight the importance of voluntary organisations such as AFRUCA working collaboratively with the statutory sector to ensure timely preventative support is available which is culturally sensitive to the needs of a diverse community.

AFRUCA is running a series of community educational programmes with Black African communities across the North West on a rolling basis to ensure that they aware of the support available, keep them abreast of developments at the Centre and listen to their views and needs. Between February 2014 to date, AFRUCA has reached 753 members of the community in 34 community events across the north-west.  All events had a good mix of ethnicities; Nigerians, Ugandans, Malawians, Eritreans, Sudanese, Ghanaians and many more were all part of the programmes.

Anti-FGM Youth Project

This was also a direct response to the findings of our report that young people were not engaging in the fight against FGM yet they are the main victims.

To date we have recruited 25 young people majority of whom are from practicing communities. They have reached over 650 people in various settings including their own communities, local schools, places of worship and youth groups and community centres.

Objectives:

  • To engage young people to be the AFRUCA voice against FGM
  • Create opportunities for young people to and elders to dialogue about FGM
  • Provide young people with an opportunity to speak out against FGM
  • Raise awareness of the impact on the practice on young girls and women.

Outcomes

  • AFRUCA has been able to reach a diverse community audience in total 650 through the individual champions’ events and raise awareness of FGM in various communities and created dialogue between adults and young people across Greater Manchester
  • The Champions are able to engage in media activities to raise awareness about FGM across Greater Manchester. They have appeared on ALL FM radio Station, Pendleton TV (Salford), Peace FM and Manchester TV, and have had articles written about them in Nubian Times and Mancunian Matters.

Family Support Services in the North West

Basic Description of Services

  • Providing child protection awareness and positive parenting skills to African parents and carers in the Northwest of England
  • Community child protection workshops in the community to raise awareness’ of child protection and the UK laws on children around safeguarding within African community settings.
  • Outreach work for individuals and organisations to promote our work
  • Working with professionals through training to raise awareness of cultural differences that may harm children
  • One to one family support for parents who are in crisis or at the point where their children are being removed
  • Training and support for professionals and foster parents to understand the needs of African children.

The objectives and outcomes we are looking to achieve in regards to each project

  • Early intervention that reduce child abuse and the number of children entering or retained in the care system.
  • To provide a source of support and information for parents and carers at the AFRUCA Centre for Children and families.
  • Parents and carers gaining a good understanding of the effects of abuse.
  • To provide a bridge for better engagement between Local Authority and families.

Referral pathways

  • Referrer fills AFRUCA’s form with as much details on safeguarding issues and AFRUCA’s Social worker does the initial assessment and one to one support sessions for parents follow.

Opening hours and Emergency contacts – 10:00am to 18:00pm (Monday to Friday), 0207 704 2261 (Emergency Contact)

Centre Activities

  • Support work with children and families: mediation, counselling, training, support, sign-posting
  • Research into key issues among African Communities in Greater Manchester
  • Child protection and support for Black African families in the North West of England
  • Training for African Parents in Child Protection
  • National Training and Advice Programme for Practitioners
  • Case Assessments, Cultural Competence, Expert Advice, Family Court Expert Reports
  • Awareness Raising and Community Education on key cultural practices
  • Assessment and Therapeutic support for victims of Abuse and Exploitation
  • Policy and Advocacy work on Child Trafficking and Modern Slavery
  • Assessments and support for victims of Modern Slavery
  • Our policy work on witchcraft branding is national. Casework in the Centre is increasing with a recent pilot project to learn from.

AFRUCA – May 2017

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