Since April this year, the start of our seventh and final year, the programme has seen an increase in community activity across the city.
As COVID-19 restrictions have gradually lifted, our Ageing Better Fund panel has been busy looking at applications from community groups who want to bring people over 50 together.
At the start of the pandemic back in 2020, we took swift action and created a new fund, the 'Transition Fund' to help existing groups to keep connecting with their members, when meeting face-to-face was no longer possible.
This meant that groups that we had previously supported through the programme, could apply for up to £500 to ensure members continued to be socially connected.
As restrictions eased in spring this year, we launched another 'Transition Fund', this time enabling groups to transition back to face-to-face activity. We have now supported 32 of Birmingham's community groups to meet in person again.
In the same period, our Ageing Better Fund funded 18 brand new activities. It's been fantastic to see what appetite there is among older people in Birmingham to meet up in groups again. It's encouraging and a strong indicator that many people in Birmingham are ready to put a challenging year behind.
We have invested over £41,000 into Birmingham-based communities through these 50 groups.
We present some of the fantastic ideas that we have supported below:
Through the Sparkbrook Hub, we helped members of two groups: Ancient Village Cookery Friends and Yemeni Elderly Project. Organising trips to Barry Island and Blackpool aims to improve participants' confidence in being out and about again. Members said they had found staying indoors during the pandemic difficult, and they hope these trips, and subsequent activities, will make a big difference for them.
One of the applications from the Carers Hub came from a group in Kingstanding. 'Neuro Posse' is a social club for people with various neurological conditions, along with their carers, who wants to reach new members who can benefit from friendship opportunities and the shared knowledge that the group offers.
Over at the City Wide Hub, we supported 'Drop-in Thursdays'. They offer gardening and craft activities to anyone who comes along and special monthly workshops on pottery, music, & circus skills. The wide variety of activities should appeal to lots of different people and the group looks forward to making a big difference in their community.
Along with the groups we have supported recently, it has been amazing to see that several groups whose initial funding was interrupted by the pandemic are starting up again. We are currently supporting over 20 of these groups to use the budget awarded initially in the winter of 2019.
There are many brilliant activities in Birmingham for people over 50 right now, and none of this would be possible without our wonderful volunteers who sit on the panel. They drive our decisions and help make Birmingham a better place in which to grow older.
To find an activity near you, take a look at the events page: https://www.ageingbetterinbirmingham.co.uk/what-s-going-on-in-birmingham
To hear from Erdington Litter Busters, one of the groups we have supported, on how they came about, what makes people join and how they are improving their local community, 55 minutes in to this webinar we hosted on 'Active Citizenship':