Evaluation of Sund for Livet (Healthy for Life)
The Danish National Institute of Public Health was commissioned by the ROCKWOOL Foundation to perform a process evaluation of the Sund for Livet (Healthy for Life) initiative. The purpose of the initiative was to improve physical and mental health among socially vulnerable women from ethnic minorities. The initiative was conducted at the Diversity Works centre for immigrant women on Nørrebro in Copenhagen, and ran for 40 weeks in 2014–15.
A total of 17 ethnic minority women participated in the project, the majority of whom were single mothers with little, if any, contact with the labour market. Many of the women were overweight and suffering from chronic illnesses including type-2 diabetes, stomach ulcers, back pain and arthritis.
The women were offered twice-weekly exercise and cooking classes, meetings with a social worker, health checks and the opportunity to take part in communal events.
Healthier habits and improved sleep
The women reported having more energy in their everyday lives, sleeping better and paying more attention to the informative labelling – regarding the sugar and fat content – of the goods they bought when shopping. Several of them had actually joined a fitness centre for the first time following the project. In addition, the social interaction with the other members of the group had a significant impact on the women’s sense of well-being. However, some of the participants found it hard to attend the classes because they were single mothers with 4–5 children and they often felt tired and stressed.
It is the conclusion of the evaluators that it would be beneficial to expand the initiative to other contexts in municipal operations, as well as among private and voluntary organisations. Compared to similar but shorter-term initiatives in the City of Copenhagen, Sund for Livet (Healthy for Life) has not proved to be more expensive, taking into account the duration of the project and the number of activities offered.