The target group for ‘Health for Life’ was primarily poorly-integrated Somali women with no connection, or only a weak connection, to the labour market and with very little education. All the women targeted by the project had low incomes. In addition, many of them were divorced or widowed. Since they typically had many children and few social connections, these women tended to spend their time alone at home with very little contact with the world around them.
The problems described above so dominated these women’s lives that they had no capacity to focus on a healthy lifestyle, a factor which significantly increased the risk of their developing lifestyle disorders. The huge language barriers faced by these women meant that they tended only to turn to the health services when an illness had already taken hold, rather than coming in time for the illness to be prevented.
The goal of the intervention was to improve the women’s wellbeing and health, and to give them the motivation to change their lifestyles and thus to minimise the risk of developing lifestyle disorders. The aim was to achieve this through:
- establishment of social networks, since a large part of the project was carried out in joint sessions including, for example, exercise, cooking, themed evenings and parties
- individual counselling, which provided opportunities for participants to receive help from a social worker with the social and financial challenges that they faced. In addition, the social workers were able to encourage individuals to make advances in their lives and take responsibility themselves, for example by helping them to begin job training or join Danish language classes
- individual diet advice in the home, guided shopping expeditions and individual health checks
- improvement in Danish language skills, with all communication on the project taking place in Danish (including communication between the participants).
The project was concluded in the autumn of 2015, as planned.
Click to read a Danish evaluation of the project.