Promoting health and well-being for
Bangladeshi families is one of the key aims of the BWHP. BWHP is now
running a project “Improving health with small steps” that will aim
to provide a programme of support to the Bangladeshi women which is
uniquely designed to meet their needs. In particular, the project
aims to provide health promotion messages on healthy lifestyles in a
way that builds on community’s knowledge and skills, and that takes
into account their cultural and religious needs as well as
Although there is no Camden specific figure, national data indicates
a very high prevalence some chronic diseases among South Asian
communities (that includes Bangladeshis as well)
They are 50 per cent more likely to die prematurely from coronary
heart disease than the general population.
They are three times more likely than most people to have
The prevalence of stroke among South Asian men (and African
Caribbean) is 70% higher than the average.
The Bangladeshi community in Camden is the most disadvantaged and
socially excluded communities in the borough. Various surveys have
highlighted poorer health status of the Bangladeshis with the higher
rates of a number of long term illnesses like i.e. coronary heart
disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, gastric ulcers.
Most of these health issues and diseases are related to poor diet
and unhealthy lifestyles.
In 2004 BWHP in partnership with Camden PCT produced a comprehensive
“Eating for a Healthy Life – a guide to Bangladeshi Eating Pattern”
in response to identified need of project members to produce
culturally appropriate information that are relevant to community’s
eating patterns. In 2005 -2006 BWHP run a pilot programme on diet
and nutrition with Bangladeshi women which were very well received
by the participants.
Building on the success of that programme the current project
‘Improving health with small steps’ aims to be more interactive so
as to give the participants a better understanding of healthy
lifestyle issues and help them to make informed choice about their
Following this programme the participants will also
have a better knowledge and understanding of the basic elements of
a healthy diet as the ‘model plate’ and the dietary guidelines.
identify nutrition related health concerns like diabetes and
have increased confidence in incorporating traditional Bangladeshi
food into the balanced diet
recognise the role of regular physical activity in leading healthy
The Bengali Women’s Health Project is a community initiative set up to
help overcome the cultural and language barriers that may prevent
Bangladeshi women from accessing health services.
The project is a partnership between six local community centres and
Camden Primary Care Trust (PCT). The PCT contributes funding towards
health promotion sessions. The community centres provide venues, staff,
Bengali Women’s Health Project aimed to:
Increase women’s knowledge about six key topic areas
Help women have more healthy behaviours
Attract new people to take part in the sessions
Demonstrate healthy eating through the provision of healthy snacks
Encourage women to take part in regular exercise sessions.
The project co-ordinators worked with an independent evaluator to
document success and to highlight any areas that might benefit from
development. The main methods used to collate information for this
Discussions with the project
steering group and community workers in meetings
Observation of health promotion sessions
Feedback forms about women’s and staff’s views completed at the end
of workshop sessions
Informal discussions with participants, including group discussions
and case studies
Camden has one of the large proportions of Bangladeshi families in the
UK. The Bengali Women’s Health Project was set up in 1990 as a ‘grass
roots’ initiative in response to research by Bengali community workers
which found a lack of Bengali-speaking professionals locally. The
researchers recommended the provision of health advice sessions in
community centres as a way to increase access to information and
support. Seventeen years later, the gap in access to information and
support related to health, social care, and mental health remains.
Bangladeshi women may be isolated, feel marginalised, and live in
relatively disadvantaged conditions.
The Bangladeshi Women’s Health Project aims to provide social and
learning opportunities to address these needs in a community
The project’s focus on women reflects the
role of women as key caregivers in Bangladeshi families, and also the
specific health and mental health issues which affect women as a result
of migration,culture change, and social isolation. In October 1990, the
first health promotion sessions were run in two centres; Hopscotch Asian
Women’s Centre and Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Centre. Since then four other
centres have also begun hosting doctor’s sessions and health promotion
workshops regularly. Each centre maintains records of women who
regularly attend sessions. More than500 women are registered.
In 2004 the project became a registered charity. It is funded jointly by
the voluntary sector and statutory services, and works closely with
health promotion services to develop bilingual resources. The project is
managed by a Steering Group made up of representatives from each of the
six community centres involved in providing activities, female
Bangladeshi doctors, and statutory services.
The group has a Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer, elected at an annual
AGM. The Steering Group meets six times each year to review progress and
consider priorities. Statutory sector representatives
are invited in order to promote two-way communication, mutual support,
and shared perspectives. In particular, Camden PCT has a senior health
promotion worker responsible for liaison with the project
team. This helps to ensure that the project is responsive to the
priorities of the health economy, and that the PCT receives regular
feedback about the needs of Bangladeshi families.