Eradicating FGM – some good news

fgm-campaign-1

Here at The Terrace we have always supported the worldwide campaign to eradicate the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM, or female circumcision, involves the removal of the clitoris and the stitching shut of a girl’s genitals, and is done for non-medical reasons. The practise is illegal in the United Kingdom, but many young girls are taken abroad to countries where it has not yet been banned.

The procedure is traditionally carried out by a woman, in a grossly abusive way – rarely with anaesthetic, cut by razor blades, knives or scissors for example – and often with a young girl, barely into puberty or younger, physically restrained. They can then be subject to ongoing health problems, such as tetanus, gangrene, HIV, hepatitis B and C and it can make childbirth incredibly difficult.

We have frequently written about FGM here on let’s talk!, updating readers with news and highlighting work being done to raise awareness and ensure girls here are safeguarded, so we were pleased to hear that the president of Gambia has banned the practise of FGM (although it has not yet been reported when the necessary legislation will be drafted to enforce the decision). Gambia was one of the 29 countries on the continent of Africa to still allow FGM.

It is reported that almost 80 per cent of women and girls have undergone FGM in Gambia, with the majority of claiming they were forced to undergo the procedure owing to an interpretation of Islam that required it. President Yahya Jammeh’s announcement is particularly iportant as he has now claimed Islam, which is the majority religion in Gambia, does not insist that a girl be cut.

There is still a lot of concern about the implementation, however. In rural areas of Gambia the overwhelming majority of women are subjected to FGM and enforcement would be difficult, but a surge in publicity and exposure of the practise has seemingly forced the president’s hand.

Bullying – Top tips for parents and carers

Lola's-story281x210November 16th marked the beginning of ‘Anti-bullying week’ and we thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the information and support offered online. After all, bullying doesn’t just take place in the playground, or at work. Cyber-bullying has opened up a myriad new ways to exert power over the vulnerable, particularly over social media.

Firstly – what exactly constitutes bullying? The Anti-Bullying Alliance, which promotes #antibullyingweek, defines it as:

‘the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power.’

It is worth stating here that some of those accused of bullying claim they didn’t know that is what they were doing, or that, particularly in the working environment, that the behaviour is simply a management technique. However, anything that involves arguments and rudeness, excluding or ignoring a colleague, or not crediting their contribution or overloading them with work can be bullying, as can spreading malicious gossip. The charity Mind has some great advice about workplace bullying, and offers links to organisations that can offer employment support.

For children and their parents, the NSPCC website offers a wonderful resource that covers not just the tips to help you if you or your child is being bullied, but help if you find your child is actually the bully. It also offers information for teachers and schools, to ensure their anti-bullying policy is up to date and fit for purpose.

cyberbullying234x346Cyber-bullying is the latest, and often most frightening, form of bullying. It can often be done anonymously, and recourse to help seems hard to find. However, the charity Childline has a page full of advice. They define cyber-bullying as:

‘Cyber bullying (also called ‘online bullying’) is when a person or a group of people uses the internet, email, online games or any other kind of digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else’

This can clearly apply to both children and adults (most of us are now aware of ‘trolling’ on social media,  when Facebook pages or twitter feeds are bombarded with threats and insults), but it is a particular concern to parents, as they see their children living their lives through their smartphones, tablets or laptops and feel excluded from potentially difficult situations online that, ten years ago, would have been out in the open, and perhaps more identifiable and manageable.

Childline offers immediate support and their website gives you all the links. Don’t forget, this issue includes ‘sexting’, a subject we have written about before, when children can find themselves the subject of explicit images that are shared widely without their permission.

Bullying has been going on for millenia, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all take action by being clear on what the term means and taking action where necessary. Bullies themselves need support, as they are statistically likely to have been victims of bullying themselves in the past and it is vital that cycle is stopped.

So take a look at these sites and make sure you are clued up. #antibullyingweek shouldn’t end on Friday 20th……

5 Recipes for well-being – Healthy eating on our Pinterest board…

Have you tried Pinterest? It is like a digital scrapbook come corkboard, particularly useful for saving your favourite images or links in any number of categories. It can be incredibly addictive, as you have access to thousands (millions!) of pictures and links saved by other users and there is the inevitable temptation to spend hours browsing and ‘repinning’ their links onto your boards for future reference.

Many businesses are now using Pinterest for marketing purposes, so here at The Terrace we thought we would give it a go. However, rather than just being another way to chat to people about our work, it has proved a fabulous way to save some favourite recipes. It is well-known that Pinterest is perfect for finding irresistable photos of fabulous food, and of course most people will never have time to produce a tenth of the recipes they save. So we thought we would pick our favourite five from our board to share on here.

salad1. Warm Winter Salads by Sophia Breene at Greatist. Delicious recipes full of rices, pulses and squash as well as fruit and a huge variety of leaves. Really highlights the value of salad in the colder months – you don’t have to hit the comfort food just because the central heating has come on….

2.The Best Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup by Ceara’s Kitchen. Having just mentioned comfort food, what could actually be better on a cold evening than a wonderful bowl of soup. This is a fabulous recipe, packed with good things and gluten free.

3. Another one from Ceara’s Kitchen – Oatmeal Banana Bread. This is a great option for people who alsways feel too rushed to eat a proper breakfast. Sweet, delicious and still good for you!

4. 30 minute Chicken Chow Mein by Healthy Nibbles & Bits. Take-aways can become redundant when you learn to cook this simple and healthy dish

5. Our very own Overnight Oats! – Prompted by Becky, who works with us here at The Terrace, we have tried this brilliant breakfast option. Give it a try and boost your energy at the start of the day.

So why not give our boards a look, and if you have your own Pinterest page, follow us for new ideas, thoughts about therapy and inspiration for health and well being – both physical and emotional. We even have cake…… (Flourless Chocolate Cake courtesy of The Vibrant Family).

Courtesy of The Vibrant Family

Courtesy of The Vibrant Family

On letting go, and being here…

download“If you want to fly on the sky, you need to leave the earth. If you want to move forward, you need to let go the past that drags you down.”
― Amit Ray, World Peace: The Voice of a Mountain Bird

Today we have been thinking about letting go – of people who can no longer be in our lives, of pain and hurt that can disempower you, of a dream that can’t be fulfilled or any of the myriad things that prove to be temporary in our lives, however much we wanted them with us always.

‘Letting go’ is an idea that many find difficult to understand. The idea that clinging on to things until the bitter end as a mark of strength is ingrained in many of is. We are told,’don’t give up, don’t give in’ – how can we square that with letting go? Well often the only way to move forward or come to terms with what is past is to forgive others, forgive yourself and open your mind to all the new opportunities that might present themselves. Painful, yes very. Honest, yes, always.

Here at The Terrace we love to find a poem that seems to express a thought we are grappling with. This one, by Steven Hickman, is also a poem for mindfulness. Just breathe and be in that moment. Like the hippo, half close your eyes and sit, Seeing all, both guilt and glory/Only noting.

The Hippo
By Steven Hickman

The hippo floats in swamp serene,
some emerged, but most unseen.

Seeing all and only blinking,
Who knows what this beast is thinking.

Gliding, and of judgment clear,
Letting go and being here.

Seeing all, both guilt and glory,
Only noting. But that’s MY story.

I sit here hippo-like and breathe,
While inside I storm and seethe.

Would that I were half equanimous
As that placid hippopotamus.

Don’t let your past control you. See it all, accept it for what it is and in doing so work to set yourself free.

“I eventually came to understand that in harboring the anger, the bitterness and resentment towards those that had hurt me, I was giving the reins of control over to them. Forgiving was not about accepting their words and deeds. Forgiving was about letting go and moving on with my life. In doing so, I had finally set myself free.
― Isabel Lopez, Isabel’s Hand-Me-Down Dreams