HBA: Educating the next generation of healthcare workers

The healthcare system and its frontline workers are often the first people to recognise signs of ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices in the UK. 

As well as providing training sessions for qualified professionals, Savera UK  recognises the importance of educating the next  generation of healthcare workers and has partnered with the University of Liverpool to achieve this.

Over the course of 12 weeks we invited final year medical students to join our Savera UK teams, including the Direct Intervention team to learn about HBA and harmful practices. During their time with us, our teams delivered  an awareness session, teaching them about indicators of ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices, who to report to and how. 

They then had the opportunity to sit in our weekly client sessions and see  the work we do in creating a safe space for all our clients, first hand. Finally,  students had the chance to understand more in-depth the services that we provide to survivors and those at risk, by observing our Direct Intervention team reviewing open cases. 

Speaking of their experience and what they learned, one of the students commented that they were surprised to hear that: “HBA and harmful practices don’t always come from a bad place, sometimes they are practised due to miseducation and cultural traditions.”

Another, Charmaine, told us that she had not been made aware that the legal age to marry had risen from 16 to 18 years old.

When asked what they would take away from the experience, another student, Carys, said she would remember: “The signs to look out for when patients are disclosing information.”

While student Simran shared her newfound admiration for the brave women/men who share their stories, after joining the group session with clients.

HBA and harmful practices are not well understood forms of abuse and can be overlooked by healthcare and other professionals. Working with the University of Liverpool students, we found that nearly all of the students had no previous understanding of HBA and harmful practices and had never heard of the term.

Medical settings are strictly confidential and survivors of the abuse are able to confide in professionals so it is vitally important that these professionals have an understanding of HBA and harmful practices and the confidence to talk about these topics with patients.

Merfat, Savera UK’s  Direct Intervention team coordinator said: “These students are the next frontline workers who will be responsible for safeguarding survivors and those at risk of HBA and harmful practices, so we welcomed them joining our team to learn more about identifying and helping us to end these practices.”

“On receiving feedback from them that ‘honour’-based abuse was something they weren’t fully aware of, these sessions are a small step in combating a larger issue and we wish them the best in their professional careers.”

Thank you to the University of Liverpool for their proactivity in recognising the importance of their students’ understanding of what ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices are, and a huge thank you to all the students who attended – we hope to build on this partnership opportunity.