Promoting social cohesion
Coming from different cultures and backgrounds, it can sometimes be difficult for ethnic minority groups in Europe to feel integrated into the community. Often they can suffer from a sense of isolation and loneliness. In addition, the women in particular struggle to gain access to a steady income and financial stability.
Ishtar is a project run by women of ethnic minority in Nørrebro, a district in Copenhagen, which aims to provide employment and a meeting place for these women. Originally a second hand clothes shop set up by Danchurchsocial, a not-for-profit organisation, it initially enabled women of ethnic minority to meet each other, as both staff and customers, helping to promote a sense of belonging and social integration.
When Danchurchsocial chose to close the shop, some of the women decided to take over the running of it. Oak Foundation supported the initial investment to help them start, and the women have expanded the project to make it sustainable. They have opened a café, which they run in a nearby sports centre.
The women involved in this project all come from ethnic minority groups and are aged between 18 and 67 years old. Together, they provide cooking classes, catering services and run the shop and the café. Many are learning Danish and enjoying being part of a multicultural group.
The project provides those working there with the opportunity to use their skills and discover their potential, building confidence and providing a stepping stone to the job market in Denmark. In addition, it brings people together, promoting a sense of cohesion and belonging. This reduces stress, improving the quality of life and the health of the women and their families.
Source: Oak Foundation Annual Report
Year of publication: 2014