Diabetes - Somali Diabetes Education

The Somali Diabetes Education project has been completed and is now closed.  This page is for information only.

WHFS (Women's Health & Family Services) has been working to support both Somali and Bengali clients with Type 2 diabetes since 2003. We were commissioned in 2008 by NHS Tower Hamlets to provide diabetes-related education and support to Somali people with diabetes, a project which ran until March 2016.  The project was set up in response to growing concerns about the increase in Type 2 diabetes among the Somali community and the difficulties associated with supporting these patients.

One of the main obstacles affecting diabetes management is the community’s difficulty in accessing health care, due to cultural and language barriers.  More than 80% of Somali diabetics in Tower Hamlets have had little formal education and many are elderly and isolated.  Simply translating NHS literature into Somali or Arabic would not be sufficient to support the majority of these patients.

The aim of the WHFS project was to deliver culturally appropriate, structured diabetes management skills to Somalis with Type 2 diabetes and their carers through education, advocacy and practical advice.

This was delivered through an education course to help diabetic patients understand diabetes and improve the day-to-day management of their condition (through, for example, lessons in healthy cooking and diet management, as well as exercise classes, home visits and peer support).  We also offered a taster version of the course.  All diabetes education courses were delivered at the Brady Centre at a time suitable to users.

The Somali Diabetes Education project provided a unique service.  Each patient was supported by a Somali educator trained to offer advocacy and support, during and after GP appointments and within the community.  Additionally, many clients were referred to partner community projects such as Social Action for Health keep-fit sessions and the WHFS Diabetes Befriending Project.


Our staff and volunteers work extremely hard to ensure the success of each project, and the feedback we have received reflects this.

The diabetes patients' experiences of the WHFS Diabetes Projects

“In every session I participated in I have learnt more techniques to manage my diabetes. Today’s session is a significant one for me as it has answered all my needed questions in regards to food in a very simple and easy to understand way. I am now confident to eat the type of food which would help my blood sugar to stay normal.” (Diabetes Education project user)

We go to the gym and swimming once a week which I haven’t done before. We also meet in the local mosque to have a chat or to pray and then have tea in a local cafe. My befriender is a very kind and understanding person. We get on very well and my befriender kept me mentally alive.” (Diabetes Befriending project user)

The Practice Nurse's experience of the WHFS Diabetes Projects

"I think the project is absolutely invaluable because communication would be impossible without you...it's hard for me to get the patient to understand the importance of managing diabetes...I refer to [WHFS staff] for education or further advice in order to save time during appointments." (Interview with Practice Nurse at GP surgery)

Further information

Please click here for information on our current projects.