Birmingham community group tackling loneliness

Woman who “overcame adversity” hopes to inspire others on International Women’s Day.

A woman “on the edge of a nervous breakdown” has spoken of how a Birmingham programme to tackle isolation helped her to overcome adversity.

Ageing Better in Birmingham, a National Lottery-funded project taking place across the city to drive down loneliness and isolation in people over 50, is supporting International Women’s Day, being held on Thursday 8th March, by sharing the story of Nina Mildenhall.

The 55-year-old mother of four lost her confidence while working as a quality controller. After leaving her job she became isolated, only leaving the house to attend hospital appointments for migraines which she had begun to suffer. She relied heavily on the support of her father and was devastated when he died after a short battle with cancer.

Nina, of Stornoway Road, Castle Vale, said: “I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I was weak and only left the house to visit the GP. My father was a fantastic support. He died in 2011 and within three years I had also lost my mother. I didn’t know what to do without them.”

In a bid to get Nina out of the house, a friend who had been made redundant encouraged her to join her at a job club. It was there that Nina met a lady who encouraged her to attend community regeneration services at The Sanctuary, Castle Vale.

She added: “I was a nervous wreck and not used to going out. A woman at the job club noticed me and suggested I attend a disability and health group once a week. Eventually I built up the courage to attend alone and got talking to others about setting up an Ageing Better in Birmingham support group.”

The group, which not only supported Nina but others like her, was launched in 2015, with the aid of £2,000 support from the programme. Nina said: “I couldn’t have dreamt about what we achieved. In 2016 we organised a Party in the Park for the Queen’s 90th birthday, attended by hundreds of people.

“I helped to organise a car boot sale to raise money for the event, which featured music, performances by singers, hot drinks and food. Even though it was raining people turned out to support us. If it wasn’t for the Ageing Better in Birmingham opportunity I don’t know where I’d be today. I’d be one of those people who don’t go out.”

Thanks to the roots set down by Ageing Better in Birmingham, Nina has continued her work by regularly visiting elderly people, at risk of isolation, in their homes.

Ageing Better in Birmingham is a £6 million, six-year project and is part of the National Lottery funded Ageing Better programme set up by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK . For information about programmes taking place near you, email: or call 0121 678 8876.