Dance programme a hit with city communities

Bollywood fitness classes bring “life-changing” results to Birmingham’s isolated.

Bollywood fitness classes, pop-up coffee mornings and a residents’ choir have helped to improve the well-being of 63 per cent of those attending “life changing” schemes to tackle isolation in Birmingham.

For Ageing Better in Birmingham, being able to offer appealing activities has been key to getting more people to take part in the groups supported by the programme since it was launched in June 2016. Ageing Better in Birmingham, is funded by a £ 6million, six-year grant supported by the Big Lottery Fund using National Lottery funding.

Sustainability has been at the forefront of the mind of programme director, Stephen Raybould (pictured). He said: “5,000 people have participated in activities created by the programme. It’s not just about what they do on the programme, it’s about asking local communities about what activities would actually motivate them to get out and about and giving them the confidence to carry it on after our initial help has gone.

“The programme provides that life-changing kick-start which allows people to take control of their life, to start activities for themselves together with their friends and neighbours and allow them to continue long into the future.”

The main activities funded by the programme, which aims to drive down loneliness and isolation in people over 50, include exercise classes, skills workshops, meals out, games clubs, gardening clubs, intergenerational activities and book clubs.

Results from an evaluation of 4,031 people who have taken part in activities show that 32 per cent of people reported a reduction in loneliness after participating in the Ageing Better in Birmingham programme, 22 per cent reported feeling less isolated and 63 per cent said they noticed an improvement in their well-being after participating. Most participants are female with 69 per cent getting involved. To tackle this citizens involved with Ageing Better in Birmingham have come up with ideas to appeal to older men such as games clubs and walking football.

Stephen added: “The needs of people always come first, before the activity. Transport is always an issue so we think carefully about taking the activity to where people can easily access it. It is a requirement that all initiatives under the programme are structured in such a way that they can continue or slightly change when we go – we’re confident that our approach will create a sustainable future.”

Those with an interest in making a difference are being urged to sign-up to a free event being hosted by the Office for Civil Society – the government office responsible for policy relating to young people, volunteers, charities, social enterprises and public services, which aim to have a positive social impact.

On Friday, June 15th speakers from organisations such as the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission and the cabinet office will attend a workshop taking place at the West Midlands Fire Service headquarters in Vauxhall Road.

Those attending are invited to examine how individuals and communities through to businesses, charities and the government can make changes to tackle loneliness. People are asked to register their attendance here.

For information about programmes taking place near you, email: [email protected] or call 0121 678 8876.