Social isolation can be a real and devastating possibility. The Mary Foundation's aim is to prevent and eliminate social isolation based on the belief that everyone has the right to belong. It works to create a society in Denmark and Greenland where no one has to feel excluded or alone. It does so by targeting three key areas: bullying, domestic violence and loneliness. The Mary Foundation has been an Oak partner since 2012.
Creating strong communities that help children feel they belong can prevent bullying. The Mary Foundation provides a number of community building projects: e.g. Free of Bullying, Klubfidusen and Antibulli., BookFun and ComfortPacks. Free of Bullying is designed to prevent bullying among children younger than eight years old. Teachers use pedagogical tools to talk to children about what it means to be a good friend and how to find the courage to intervene, when something unfair happens to one self or others. Half of all Danish pre-schools and 40 per cent of primary schools, as well as all preschools and schools in Greenland have implemented the project with great success.
BookFun is a project where teachers are provided materials designed to strengthen children’s language skills and self-confidence by actively engaging them in reading stories out loud. “BookFun has boosted her self-confidence,” said a teacher about a girl in her preschool. “Her vocabulary has increased and she talks more, she is generally braver about speaking now. This means that she takes the initiative to play more often and has formed more social relationships.”
Klubfidusen is a third project which creates a football club culture for players aged 6 to 12, where all children feel comfortable and welcome.
According to the Mary Foundation, some 29,000 women in Denmark are subjected to domestic violence every year and 33,000 children experience violence in their homes. However, because domestic violence is still a largely taboo topic which most people never report, the number could be much higher. The Mary Foundation gives women and children a voice and supports them to live a life without violence. Approximately 2,000 women and their children seek shelter at women’s centres in Denmark every year, where they receive financial, legal and social advice through the project Advice for Life..
The Mary Foundation also helps to raise awareness about the consequences of loneliness, including the negative health connotations, and offers support to those suffering from loneliness.
To find out more about the work of the Mary Foundation, visit its website.