Last month a number of people came together for a special workshop aimed at raising awareness and harmful practices affecting vulnerable communities.

Hertsmere Borough Councillor Meenal Sachdev helped to set up the workshop on May 27 which highlighted specific practices including female genital cutting, forced marriage and faith based abuse.

Cllr Sachdev is also the director of the Shiva Foundation, an organisation which works proactively to address systemic issues that affect vulnerable communities.

She said: “I am excited to have been able to gather representatives from across sectors by leveraging both these roles.

“It was amazing to see these individuals in one room to discuss a topic that without doubt deserves a more comprehensive response.”

A range of practitioners including police commissioners, health workers, council members and youth officers came together at the meeting.

Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, Cllr Morris Bright, said: “This type of workshop is essential to ensure that these dreadful, hidden practices are more easily able to be identified so that help can be given to those who very often are suffering in silence.

“Just because we do not hear about something does not mean it is not happening.”

Cllr Sachdev is hoping these workshops will provide a safe space for people to learn and share knowledge so everyone can work together effectively.

Police community support officers Natalie Pearman and Samantha O’Grady said: “We work primarily within the community and have a responsibility to protect individuals.

“It is crucial that we understand harmful practices so that we can effectively protect victims and refer them to the right agencies.”

The objective of the workshop was to work on a collective basis and enable each individual to identify the role they need to play in tackling violence against women in all its forms.

Cllr Sachdev said: “Whilst this is going to be a challenging process and many gaps need to be addressed, my goal is for us to work towards becoming a leading and exemplary authority in the area and build a model that other councils may follow.”