The Ageing Better in Birmingham programme is funded by the National Lottery to reduce loneliness and social isolation among local people over 50, including unpaid Carers, making Birmingham a better place in which to grow older.
Birmingham Carers Hub oversees the Ageing Better Fund, part of the Ageing Better programme. We support Birmingham citizens to access up to £2,000 of Ageing Better Funding to create new community groups that bring together people of different ages in a positive environment, increasing social and community connections and reducing social isolation.
In 2021, as part of an extension to help communities manage the impact of Covid-19, we helped Birmingham Carers to access £24,815.55 of grant funding to set up 11 brand new community groups and help re-vitalise a further 16.
The variety and creativity shown by the community groups has been fantastic with the types of groups as unique as the people who attended them, ranging from lunch clubs, exercise classes, craft sessions, workshops, memory making groups, knitting (pictured below), and much more – but they all had one common theme, attendees came together to smile and make lasting memories. Providing opportunities for people to come together and share experiences in a wide range of social activities.
You can read more about some of the fabulous groups and the impact of coming together, in the stories below.
The Calder friends had funding for outdoor furniture so that they could hold afternoon tea parties in the small garden at the sheltered housing complex. From this group other groups developed such as bingo and book club. A new group then started up as for some people their passion was gardening, they called themselves the Old and Bold gardeners and got funding for plants etc. and a birds nest camera. During Covid-19, things of course had to stop. However, with IT support from Digikick, one of our partner, some of them managed to meet on Zoom.
Now they are able to meet face to face again and people are gradually coming out again. One lady who hasn’t been out for nearly 2 years says that she will attend the Jubilee Garden party in June. Everyone is excited and will get involved on the day, making sandwiches, baking cakes, setting tables etc. For people who still worry about meeting face to face again a packed lunch will be delivered to their door, so that everyone can take part in the celebrations.
Phoenix Fitness group
This is a new group of carers and ex-Carers. Before the pandemic, most of the group attended various exercise groups in the area, but found they closed during the pandemic. When restrictions lifted, one person decided to try to start a new group. The group was successful in sourcing funding from the Ageing Better Fund which allowed them to find a teacher and a venue. The Phoenix exercise group rose from the ashes! It only took a couple of months for numbers to increase and now the group is sustainable. The group has managed to turn the fact that their venue is only available three weeks out of four, into a positive by meeting for a meal or a coffee locally when they can’t use the venue. This gives the group a really sociable element that people look forward to.
Ex carer Jack moved into sheltered accommodation and found that there were no activities that suited him, so he began a gardening group. The group repaired the greenhouse, planted shrubs and flowers, made hanging baskets and are planting a new tree for the Queen’s Jubilee. Sadly, quite recently Jack was diagnosed with Dementia. Jack has adapted to this situation and has a positive attitude. He has donated a snooker table and darts board to the group so now there are more activities available, and he is organising karaoke evenings to encourage more people out of their flats. The activities and friendships that originate from the group make an immeasurable contribution to people’s lives.