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"We have only just begun" - said Denmark's Crown Princess about The Mary Foundation's 10-year anniversary

The Mary Foundation is celebrating its ten-year anniversary. Since its inception on 11 September 2007, it has helped to: establish Denmark’s most extensive anti-bullying programme for 0–8-year-olds, increase the focus on children in families affected by domestic violence, and spread awareness about the damaging effects of loneliness on quality of life and health – among other things. And the Foundation’s work has only just begun.

So, here we are. 10 years’ wiser. 10 years’ richer in experience, lessons learned and results. And more certain than ever that we have only just begun. Because 10 years is not a particularly impressive anniversary – not least when you consider the goals we have set for ourselves. Impacting the social outlook in our country requires a long-term and holistic approach.”

This is how HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark opened her speech at The Mary Foundation’s 10th anniversary celebration. Invited guests included the foundation’s governing body, pro-bono partners, board of directors and secretariat – all of whom were thanked for their support for a foundation that has found its place in the social sphere over the years.

The Mary Foundation was created with a mission to fight social isolation based on the underlying philosophy that everyone has the right to belong. The foundation’s three focus areas – Bullying and Well-being, Domestic Violence and Loneliness – were launched in 2007, 2008 and 2011, respectively. These focus areas were selected based on a thorough analysis of the social field, combined with the Crown Princess’s personal interests. The foundation develops, pilots and runs its own projects in collaboration with NGOs, companies and organisations, and the foundation is therefore also known as a different kind of foundation that does not hand out money.

The Mary Foundation’s first and most well-known project is Free of Bullying, which is managed in collaboration with Save the Children Denmark and Ole Kirk’s Foundation and has now spread to include half of the country’s pre-schools and a third of the country’s primary schools and after school clubs. Free of Bullying has also been adapted into versions that have since become widely used in Greenland, Estonia and Iceland. In addition to Free of Bullying, The Mary Foundation manages a number of larger projects and is also focused on gathering and spreading new knowledge in the selected fields of interest. Knowledge generation and dissemination is fundamental to The Mary Foundation, since the foundation regards knowledge and understanding as the prerequisites for any kind of social change.

There are no currently plans for The Mary Foundation to expand its three focus areas. Instead, the foundation is continuing to focus on generating sustainable change for people who find themselves standing on the edge of the community or group because of bullying, loneliness or domestic violence.

In honour of its 10th anniversary, The Mary Foundation is launching a short film (in Danish) about our shared responsibility for the health of our communities. Crown Princess Mary features in the film, which can be viewed here.

Background
Crown Princess Mary has always had an acute awareness of people who are not joining in, who are all alone and cannot understand why they are not part of the community. And her desire to help people who are socially isolated received a boost when a DKK 1.1 million gift from the people of Denmark and Greenland was collected and donated in honour of the royal wedding in May 2004. In 2006, the idea began in earnest to develop into its current form. A year later, in 2007, “The Mary Foundation – HRH Crown Princess Mary’s Foundation” became a reality.

Its inspiration is largely rooted in the Crown Princess’s social work with patronages, where social isolation particularly often proves to be a major cause of the problems. Inspiration has also been sourced from other foundations around the world.

The Mary Foundation’s first project was launched in 2007. More projects have since joined the fray, and there are more on the way. All of which is thanks to the people’s gift and the eight co-founders, who ensured the organisation’s solid financial foundation. The group of co-founders has since expanded and the foundation’s nominal capital is now DKK 170 million. This capital will remain untouched and provide the basis for long-term efforts. One hundred per cent of the annual return will go towards the work to combat social isolation in The Mary Foundation’s three focus areas: Bullying and Well-being, Domestic Violence and Loneliness.

Selected results
Free of Bullying is The Mary Foundation’s and Save the Children Denmark’s anti-bullying programme aimed at 0–8-year-olds. The programme is being used in just over half of pre-schools and one-third of primary schools and after school clubs. In 2016, Free of Bullying was expanded to include childcare facilities for the youngest children. Other countries regularly enquire about adopting Free of Bullying, adapted versions of which are currently being implemented and expanded in Greenland, Estonia and Iceland. Evaluations show that children who work with Free of Bullying are more caring and better at managing conflict than other children. Ole Kirk’s Foundation supports the project.

LæseLeg (ReadingGame) is a Danish language teaching tool that makes it easy for teachers to strengthen 1–6-year-olds’ communication skills and thus support all children – regardless of their language proficiency – to actively participate in the children’s group. LæseLeg is based on dialogic reading and has proven to have a significant effect on children’s vocabulary. Læseleg is currently being used in more than 1,000 pre-schools. In its first year, Læseleg was supported by The Obel Family Foundation.

Råd til Livet (Advice for Life) consists of economic, social and legal advice to women affected by violence and is provided in collaboration with Mødrehjælpen (Mothers’ Aid), Nykredit, LOKK (National Organisation of Crisis Centres for Women), Østifterne and volunteer lawyers. Råd til Livet is largely a voluntary organisation, with financial advisers from Nykredit providing their services pro-bono, for example. More than 3,800 women have received support from Råd til Livet, which is based on a theory of change that focuses on strengthening the individual woman to forge a life without violence.

Værket (The Work) is The Mary Foundation’s, Save the Children Denmark’s and THE VELUX FOUNDATION’s contribution to supporting adults between the ages of 30 and 60, who are battling loneliness. Værket has helped draw attention to loneliness in adult life and is now widely adopted in over 20 Danish cities. In an evaluation of Værket, two in every three participants said that they had learned to handle their loneliness better, and more than half of them felt less lonely.

2007

  • 1/9 secretariat established
  • 11/9 inaugural meeting
  • Free of Bullying project launched

2008

  • Participation in the Danish Department of Education’s (UVM) “Together against bullying” campaign
  • The focus area Bullying and Well-being launched
  • Launch of Free of Bullying school suitcase
  • Free of Bullying Children’s Run held for the first time
  • Launch of Domestic Violence focus area
  • “Backpacks for children in women's shelters” project launched
  • “Everyone has the right to a life without violence” conference

2009

  • Launch of “Advice for Life” project
  • First visit to Greenland – agreement on Kammagiitta – Free of Bullying
  • “No to bullying, yes to well-being” conference
  • Conference on dating violence

2010

  • Kammagiitta – Free of Bullying launched in Greenland
  • Advice for Life expanded to include women's shelters
  • Internationalisation of Free of Bullying commences

2011

  • Free of Bullying launched in Estonia
  • Celebration of 1000th Free of Bullying pre-school
  • Launch of LæseLeg
  • Launch of Loneliness focus area
  • Conference on loneliness
  • Network project launched

2012

  • 10,000th backpack for children in women's shelters packed
  • Kammagiitta – Free of Bullying rolled out throughout Greenland

2013

  • Study on children’s well-being during leisure activities
  • Launch of “Klubfidusen” project

2014

  • Report about lonely adults
  • Launch of The Free of Bullying Universe
  • Conference on Free of Bullying in Estonia
  • Kattunneq project launched in Greenland
  • Værket project launched
  • Collaboration with DR Ultra and the film “Vis mod” (“Show courage”)

2015

  • Launch of “People’s Movement Against Loneliness”
  • Aalborg University conference on the language of children
  • Report on leisure and teasing
  • Kærlig Talt (Cordially Speaking) project launched
  • “Well-being in leisure activities” conference

2016

  • Announcement on collaboration with Mikkel Hansen and MH24 – Foreningen Mikkel Mod Mobning (Mikkel Against Bullying Foundation)
  • Free of Bullying for childcare facilities launched
  • Alliance against bullying established
  • “Domestic violence – a shared responsibility” conference held in Greenland
  • Animation about the mechanisms of bullying
  • Kærlig Talt “Respect on the timetable” conference

2017

  • Antibulli project launched
  • 20,000th backpack for children in women's shelters packed
  • Participated in “Body and ideals” media competition
  • “Social exclusion” conference in collaboration with TrygFonden
  • Film called “Hvor længe kan du holde vejret?” (“How long can you hold your breath?)
  • Left Network project
  • The Mary Foundation celebrates 10 years
Når pædagoger, lærere og forældre sammen sætter fokus på det gode børnefællesskab og på at lære børn og unge, at mobning er uacceptabelt, så virker det...
Kronprinsessen hyldede partnerskabet og brede alliancer i arbejdet med at bekæmpe komplekse sociale...
Vores samarbejde med MH24 - Mikkel Mod Mobning har knopskudt, og vi har netop lanceret Antibulli-prisen...
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