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The Mary Foundation's annual donation of DKK 250,00 goes to Neighbourhood Mothers (Bydelsmødrene)

More than 600 strong women are qualified Neighbourhood Mothers (Bydelsmødre). Neighbourhood Mothers are primarily women from a minority background who want to help other local women like themselves. The help consists of promoting an understanding of conditions in Denmark and supporting women and their families to engage in Danish society. The Mary Foundation is awarding its 2017 annual donation of DKK 250,000 to Neighbourhood Mothers.

Photo: Fonden for Socialt Ansvar (The Foundation for Social Responsibility)

Strong mothers bring about strong families. This is one of the founding principles behind Neighbourhood Mothers’ work, which focuses on training enthusiastic women volunteers to create local networks for women from minority backgrounds. The networks enable women to experience a sense of community while at the same time strengthening their knowledge of – and prospects for – engaging in Danish society. The results of this initiative are convincing, and they demonstrate how the women gain the confidence and drive to engage in the Danish language, education, job opportunities, etc. as a result.

I recently visited Neighbourhood Mothers and was deeply impressed by the women’s stories of change. Some of the women have lived quite isolated lives, but in their encounters with Neighbourhood Mothers, they have experienced the door to society opening bit by bit. They develop an understanding of and new prospects for joining the community. As an example, they develop an awareness of why it’s important for them and their children to participate in play groups and school events, and that knowledge gives them peace of mind and inspires them to want to participate,” explained Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

Today, there are more than 600 neighbourhood mothers and 40 networking groups. The networks represent 41 nationalities and 54 languages, but when the women meet, they speak Danish. This is because the Danish language is regarded as one of the key links to society, and once women connect with Neighbourhood Mothers, their integration, affiliation to the local environment, and ability to break the cycle of disadvantage across generations are strengthened. Economists Without Boarders estimate that every Danish kroner invested in Neighbourhood Mothers generates a three- to tenfold return.

In Neighbourhood Mothers, women help other women to escape loneliness and isolation by joining a strong, healthy network away from negative social control and closer to the Danish system – including its municipalities, schools and institutions, as well as education and job opportunities. The Mary Foundation’s annual donation is a profound recognition of our work and helps to further strengthen local inclusion,” said CEO of The Foundation for Social Responsibility, Thit Aaris-Høeg.

Every year, the Crown Princess presents The Mary Foundation’s annual donation to a project or organisation that has shown special potential.

The Mary Foundation’s annual donation has previously been awarded to:
Danish Refugee Council’s work in conflict areas (DKK 250,000)
Women Deliver stipends to 14 young leaders (DKK 250,000)
Brothers For Life, South Africa (DKK 250,000)
Fórum Mulher, Mozambique (DKK 250,000)
Orchid Project (DKK 50,000) “Afrika Nu” (Africa Now) fundraising campaign (DKK 200,000)
Maternity Worldwide, Ethiopia (DKK 250,000)

Facts about Neighbourhood Mothers

  • Neighbourhood Mothers is a nationwide network of women, most of whom come from minority backgrounds. The volunteer Neighbourhood Mothers have completed 15 modules of basic training.
  • The goal is to support isolated women from ethnic minorities. Neighbourhood Mothers gives each woman the information and support she needs in order to take responsibility for her own life and her children’s lives.
  • 40 Neighbourhood Mothers groups have been established in Denmark.
  • There are over 600 active volunteer Neighbourhood Mothers throughout Denmark.
  • The Neighbourhood Mothers represent 41 different nationalities and speak 54 different languages.
  • The Neighbourhood Mothers National Organisation is a private organisation established under the Foundation for Social Responsibility, which also runs The Nightravens, Baba – fordi far er vigtig  (Baba – because dad is important) and Familieiværksætterne (The Family Entrepreneurs).

The impact of Neighbourhood Mothers

The individual

  • Women gain more knowledge about Danish society.
  • Women gain more confidence and more courage to find solutions to their own problems.
  • Women develop stronger ties with their local community.
  • Women move closer to the job market and nearly five women secure jobs every year as a result of becoming Neighbourhood Mothers.

The family

  • The mothers become more involved in their children’s lives.
  • The women’s transformation breaks the cycle of social disadvantage.

The local community

  • Better contact and more trust between vulnerable women and local professionals.
  • Strengthened local communities and families counteracts radicalisation.

Denmark

  • For every Danish kroner invested in Neighbourhood Mothers, Danish society gets a three- to tenfold return over a period of 10 years.
  • An investment of DKK 3 million produces 137,000 volunteer hours.
  • The 137,000 volunteer hours deliver an annual socio-economic benefit of DKK 36.2 million.

Source: bydelsmor.dk.

The Neighbourhood Mothers National Organisation is a private organisation established under the Danish non-profit organisation The Foundation for Social Responsibility. Neighbourhood Mothers collaborates with a number of other organisations, including The Ministry of Immigration and Integration and the Council for Ethnic Minorities.

Read more about Neighbourhood Mothers here: bydelsmor.dk

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