This is a short update about the work of our Somali Women’s Group so far during 2020.
A big thank you to MoMark’s Community Mental Health Fund and our individual supporters in backing this work.
KLS’ Somali Women’s Group aims to:
- Improve mental health for 20 Somali Women who currently have low level mental health issues and low self-esteem.
- Increase confidence for the women to seek support from other services for their mental health (E.g. GP or Talk Wandsworth) if needed.
- Empower the group to lead themselves after the project ends so it becomes a peer-led and sustainable group.
The group met every Friday morning (starting on 17th January 2020).
From 17th January to 14th February 2020 the sessions were about ‘life coaching’.
The sub topics were:
- Goals and success
These sessions took 5 weeks to complete. We designed these sessions with the facilitators to tackle the wider range of mental health issues that the ladies are facing and to identify the type of help they need. Throughout the sessions, the women were expressing themselves, were able to engage with one another and share their stories. For example, here are some quotes from the women:
“I now know what to expect when going to the GP” said F.
S said “I now know how to dedicate time to being mindful.”
We were setting mindfulness activities for ‘homework’ every week for them to complete. All in all, we were impressed by the levels of engagement from the women and how they followed through the sessions.
Cook and Talk
From 28th February to 13th March 2020, we did sessions called ‘Cook and Talk’.
The aim of these session was to teach the ladies how to make healthy food to boost their mental health. The women learnt new skills. They were really excited and enjoyed the sessions with the chef (Somali speaking). One lady said “I’ve never cooked a vegetable like this before. This has changed the way we’ve cooked and the way we feed our families.” We had to cut short these sessions because of the lockdown but hope to continue when we’re allowed back.
We conducted feedback questionnaires towards the end of the first term. This enabled us to see how they were feeling. The majority of the women scored either 4-5 on the questionnaire, with 4 being very good and 5 being excellent. This means the women were confidently able to talk about their mental health/ feelings and how to seek external help. In the second term, we did phone call feedback from the women which made us able to understand how they were feeling. Many of them were looking forward to our virtual sessions and they told us what sessions they wanted to cover and to talk about.
The impact of Lockdown on the Women’s Group
At Katherine Low Settlement we suspended all of our face-to-face services on 17th March, including this Women’s Group, due to the Coronavirus lockdown. The group was due a break anyway due to the Easter school holidays and then Ramadan. However, we decided, in consultation with the women, that for their wellbeing we would continue the group online, rather than have this break. KLS has paid for this out of additional emergency Covid-19 funds that we’ve been able to raise from our individual supporters (thank you everyone!).
‘Me Time’ – Meeting up on Friday’s with KLS’ Somali Women’s Group
Here’s an extract from our blog about the women’s group during lockdown.
Our Somali Women’s Support Group has continued to meet throughout the lockdown, as everyone involved felt that it was particular important to carry on and support one another through this extraordinary time. Here Faaduma, our Women’s Group Coordinator, reflects upon the sessions.
“After a few technical difficulties, we were able to call on Zoom. I had 10 ladies who joined the call. We agreed to join at 9:30pm on Fridays as most of the ladies have young children, so they preferred to meet later on in the day. We decided to do some activities such as book club, cooking sessions and sharing the food they’ve made and self-care. They also do activities together with their children such as arts and crafts and again cooking sessions. I’m also doing one-to-one phone calls to those who are unable to join the sessions.
In our session on 10th April, I had a Somali speaking facilitator who kindly volunteered to do a session with them about the lockdown and the mental health issues that come with it. We had 14 ladies who joined us. I was very pleased because they were able to express their views and feelings. They were also able to share ideas in how to cope with the pandemic. Some of us are still continuing to do the book club that we had running before the lockdown.
During Ramadan we’ve continued and the ladies have been sharing recipes for the Iftar, as well as activities for themselves and their families.
I’ve noticed that by having the sessions it helps them talk about their weekly challenges. They call it their ‘me’ time. One of the mothers said “thank you guys, you’ve changed my life.” Another mother said “I look forward to meeting up on Fridays.” And another told us, “I really look forward our weekly Zoom meetings. It gives me time to ‘escape’ from everything.”
Plans for next term
For next term we are planning to hold some picnics in the park with the women’s families (socially distanced of course – it is important that we build their confidence to get out of their flats and re-enter the world after lockdown) and virtual cooking sessions. We are going to have a Somali life coach who will be managing sessions such as ‘Give Yourself’ and ‘Set Realistic Goals’.