Bangladeshi Elders Project



The Bangladeshi Elders Project is a Sixty Plus Programme that was set up to address the social and welfare needs of Bangladeshi elderly people living in the Wapping Neighbourhood. Wapping Bangladesh Association was awarded a 3 years MSG (Mainstream) Funding by Tower Hamlets Health and Well-being  Directorate.  The  aim  of  the  service  has been to provide a befriending and support service to over Bangladeshi and other ethnic minority elderly people,  valuing  their  specific  cultural,  religious  and language needs. In order to meet the diverse needs of this vulnerable group of people. The project developed a package of services and the facilities was delivered by Qualified Key Workers. 


Culturally, onset of old age occurs earlier with the Bangladeshi people with most viewing 50 years old  and beyond  as  old.  This  outlook  has  several repercussions as it means that physical ailments usually associated with old age are experienced earlier, and psychologically they feel that they should be dependent and cared for. Inhibited by the lack of proficiency in language and confidence, Bangladeshi elderly people are more inward looking, experience more isolation to greater extreme and have developed a genuine fear of coming out of 
their home. 

As Wapping Bangladesh Association is the only bilingual multi purpose community organisation in the whole of the Wapping Neighbourhood, it is often the first point of contact for advice, information and drop in for all the Bangladeshi elderly people in the area. There is specialist Bangladeshi Elderly People’s organisations in other parts of the borough and are mainly  focused  either  in  the  Bethnal  Green  and Stepney areas that is over 1.5 to 2 miles away. This makes  it  very  difficult  for  the  Bangladeshi  elderly people to get there particularly with their poor health, poor transport links from the area and unfamiliar with the other areas. This therefore leaves them vulnerable to social isolation. This has been confirmed through our survey recently carried out and we have found that  at  least  50%  of  the  service  seekers  are  elderly Bangladeshi residents who are 50 years and over. 
Most of these people are first generation Bangladeshi who suffer from a varied range of social, health and economic problems. As English is their second language most of them are unable to communicate effectively  in  the  native  tongue  and  find  the Association a resourceful source of help. 

In the last two years WBA provided the following general services for the Bangladeshi Elderly Community: 

•  We carried out outreach work through home visits of elderly users who were unable to leave their home 
being housebound through mobility problems.

•  We provided a variety of information on health matters,  benefits,  on  housing,  utilities,  welfare matters and security. We provided translation and interpreting support letter writing, reading correspondences, telephoning appropriate agencies regarding any queries they had e.g. bills or utilities queries. 

•  We ran a number of themed health awareness workshop sessions promoting healthy living, exercise and fitness, disease prevention, on specific health matters such as diabetes, chronic disease, and effects of eating paan, chewing tobacco and smoking. 

In addition to some of the general services, the Association provided specialised services focused around their recreational and social development, helping to improve the health and diet of older people  through  a  luncheon club and tackling physical health problems through complementary therapy services.