Project Benefits
Behaviour change
Other outcomes
New participants

Some of the benefits women report from attending workshops and doctorsí sessions. Feedback for this section was collected by observing workshops, informal discussions with women and community workers, and
feedback forms completed by staff and women. Monitoring by an independent evaluator suggests that the Bengali Womenís Health Project is having significant benefits in terms of increasing knowledge and encouraging behaviour change. Feedback at group sessions and from informal interviews suggests that the workshops are favourably received by Bangladeshi women, and that women feel they are learning a lot by participating.

At the end of each set of workshops about a topic, we asked women to fill in a very simple feedback form to tell us what they had learnt. Community workers also held a group discussion to gain feedback from women at the end of each set of sessions.

The most common things that women said they had learnt were, in order of frequency:
  Self care strategies to look after themselves
  Services available to help
  How to teach children about health
  What to eat
  Sexual infections to look out for
  How to make the home safe
  Difference between stress, anxiety, depression and madness
  Do not ignore invitation for screening
  Practical skills for parents
  How to give up smoking or paan
  How many chemicals in one cigarette
  Passive smoking dangers
  Benefits of breastfeeding
  Infant feeding myths
  Practical coping skills
  How to use a pedometer
  We can change if we want to
  When to immunise
  New types of contraception

The women say they are changing some of their attitudes and behaviours as a result of attending sessions. In particular, women have spoken about changing their eating habits, attending screening tests, and trying to exercise more.

The top three topic areas where women said they felt they would make the most changes were healthy eating, breast and cervical screening, and self help for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

The most common things that women said they would change were:
  Pass on information to daughters, in laws, and other family members
  Changing eating habits or the foods eaten
  Do not ignore screening appointment letters
  Using the services that are available to help
  More aware of what to look for in terms of sexual infections
  Do more walking, especially using pedometer
  Thinking about ways to educate men, for example about the dangers of smoking
  Reduce or stop paan chewing
  Asking for help to attend appointments
  First aid skills for children's accidents
  Trying new methods of contraception
  Practical steps to change parenting
  Practical things to do when feeling low
  Stop people smoking inside the home
  Talk to someone instead of keeping things to self
  Attending more sessions at the centres
  Checking breasts

Women also say they have changed the way they cook or tried new ideas for healthy eating. However, women are not the only ones that need to alter their behaviours and expectations, and this remains an ongoing challenge for the programme.

Depression and isolation are significant issues for women in Camdenís Bangladeshi community, and the project is helping to tackle this. The project helps not only by providing information about mental health topics, but also by giving a regular forum for women to socialise with others. The social function may be as important as the topic based content.

Interviews with community workers and doctors provide more evidence that the programme is having an impact. Staff say that they see women using the things they have learned in their day to day lives, and they know messages are being passed on as more people attend the sessions or come to them for individualised support.

Another key area where the programme is making an impact is in one to one consultations with doctors. The Bengali doctors help to remind women to take their medication as prescribed by their GP. This has led to improved clinical outcomes for a number of women, especially those with diabetes and high blood pressure.

Everyone in the programme acknowledges that change can be a slow and gradual process. Not every woman who attends workshops or visits a doctor will change her behaviour, and continual reminders and reinforcement is needed. But there are many clear examples of where women have made significant changes to their attitudes and behaviours as a result of attending workshops, and these successes need to be celebrated and promoted.

One of the unexpected outcomes of the project is that the community workers who help translate and take part in the sessions also learn a lot. These community workers can then pass on that knowledge in their day to day work with Bangladeshi families. In the sessions observed by an independent evaluator, the community workers and doctors took part fully in the discussions, helping to ask women questions, involve them in discussions, and make the talks relevant to the Bangladeshi way of life.

In some cases external organisations that facilitate sessions have asked community workers to continue working with them. For example, an organisation that raises awareness about drug use was impressed by the community workers at one centre and offered to train them and other Bangladeshi women and community
workers as sessional drug advisors. Up to eight Bangladeshi women were invited to attend the accredited course, which provides high quality training and the prospect of increased employability. Women who attend the sessions also say that one of the key things they take away from the workshops is knowledge to share
with other family members and friends. Some say they are motivated to gain more training following workshops.

Camden PCT provided £16,292 to support the project in the year ending March 2007. The funding equates to £11 for every contact with a woman or £131 for each workshop run, with all resource costs included. The individual examples of reducing use of depression medication, maintaining blood pressure, early identification of breast lumps, and identifying sexually transmitted infections outlined above demonstrate that the programme is helping to make real impacts, for a small amount of money per person.

One of the key success factors is that the programme has been running for a long time. Women and their families come to accept the programme and the messages it provides, because they have ample time to adjust and build on the lessons learned. Building trust and relationships is important to the success of the project, and over the next few years we will be looking to gain more established long term funding to ensure sustainability.


Between 5 and 25 women have attended each workshop session, but often it is the same group of women attending all sessions. This is positive because it means there is a group committed to attending sessions who are learning a lot and are able to act as ambassadors for the rest of the community. However, it also means that new people arenít always taking part in workshops. On average, one woman who has not attended workshops before may attend each new set of sessions.

Attracting new women to the sessions will be a priority for the Bengali Womenís Health Project over the next year. To facilitate this the project will:
Develop colourful promotional materials to promote the sessions to women,
Advertise the sessions to health professionals, Sure Start groups, and other organisations so they can pass
on details to the women they are working with
Hold a community event to attract a broader range of participants, and use this event as a way to signpost to workshops and other services.



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