Aunti Ji's Soup Kitchen - Helping Handsworth's Homeless

Written by  Friday, 09 October 2015 16:38
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Legacy WM has been working with older Asian women in the Handsworth and Lozells area of Birmingham, to engage them in physical activity and healthy cooking workshops, as a way of preventing social isolation, improving their health and well-being.

The ‘Women Can’, project was developed as a result of research into the health of local people which revealed that life expectancy 8 years is less for women than other parts of the city.

The area has significant levels of preventable circulatory and heart diseases. Less than 15% of the local population participate in physical activity or sport for the recommended 30 minutes a day, for 3 or more days a week. Within the community, Asian women are the most isolated, have sedentary lives and suffer from poor mental health / depression. There is no word for depression and as a result of a lack of understanding. Asian women often suffer in silence, with suicide rates amongst is twice the national average.

The project started in July 2014 and used outreach and word of mouth to recruit 44 local Asian women. We ran healthy cooking workshops. As their confidence grew, we took them on walks and organised Zumba and Swimming. They developed new friends and began realising the relationship between physical activity, what they eat and their health and well-being. 80% reported an improvement in their well-being.

Quote from participants

“I have spent most of my life, looking after my family and not had the opportunity to look after myself or make friends. This programme is good for women like me. It’s something to look forward to. I feel more confident and happier as a person”

“ I’m glad I’m part of this programme. It gives me a reason to leave the house. I can talk to people about my problems and get help. I enjoy the walks and going swimming and I have learnt about how to cook more healthily.”

The women are ‘housewives’ and spent most of their time cooking for their families. Within the community, we refer to older Asian women as ‘Aunty Ji’s’ as a sign of respect. Aunty Ji’s pride themselves on cooking skills. We wish to build on our work with the women to help the local community by running a soup kitchen. The area has significant levels of food poverty and homelessness. ‘Aunty Ji’s Soup Kitchen’ will give the women an opportunity to volunteer and contribute their skills to help the community. It is a way of paying forward what they have received. The Aunty Ji’s will feel valued and help contribute to feeding the local homeless community or those experiencing food poverty. The soup kitchen will be run from a local church. We will also provide an advise and referral service. Food is a great way of bringing people together. The project will help break down barriers, create social cohesion, tackle food poverty, homelesnesss and substance misuse, tackle isolation, and build the skills and confidence of the Aunty Ji’s.

Read 1464 times Last modified on Friday, 30 October 2015 15:02