Ageing Better in Birmingham, a programme set up to reduce social isolation and loneliness for the over 50s in Birmingham, funded a group of Sparkbrook women to connect over food and activities.

The women-only coffee mornings has developed in to a cooking club with women from the Asian, Arab, African-Caribbean, English and Eastern-European communities in Birmingham and has helped local women find their confidence and make friends.

It all started when Kheira Mohammed helped set up women-only coffee mornings a few years ago. At the time, Kheira was managing a local charity's shops and by getting to know her customers she realised that many women in the local community needed a space to meet.

"It was clear they wanted to have a chat and that many were feeling bored, lonely and didn't have many people to speak to", she said.

Suggestions from the women indicated that a coffee morning hosted somewhere local would be a good way to get to know other women living in the area. An underused training space above one of the charity shops was perfectly situated on the local high street.

Kheira explains: "The location was key to the success of the group. Not only were we offered to use it for free, the women were already familiar with the shop and the location, so it was easy to set up and manage the coffee mornings.

"It is so important we have people to talk to in our community. The coffee shop became a place where women could have relatable conversations, share life events and stories with each other, and find someone who would listen to what they had to say."

To encourage more women to attend, the group applied for funding from the local council and from Ageing Better in Birmingham's Ageing Better Fund. These micro funds helped the group set up creative classes, yoga, Pilates and dance sessions. They also created links with the police, mental health charities and could signpost attendees to support elsewhere in the community.

As the women grew confident and more resilient, Ms Mohammed noticed a difference in their mental wellbeing.

"Seeing how laughing and getting together gave them a boost of happiness, it was lovely to see them growing in confidence", she said.

A WhatsApp group was created, which meant that the women were connecting with each other outside of the coffee mornings and activity sessions. This proved useful when the pandemic meant they could no longer meet in person. By sending each other links, motivational quotes and recipes on WhatsApp, they kept in touch throughout the different lockdowns. Eventually, the women started cooking via video calls.

By September, the group was able to meet in person in the community venue again, and twelve women got together for regular cooking sessions, in what is now know as 'The Eat Well Together Club'. Each time, one of the members take the lead and share their own recipe.

Kheira said: "The women, they have lots of skills and lots to give. One thing I have learnt during the last year or so is that we may not associate play with adults, but as adults we also need play in our lives. Like cooking, or dancing. It makes us feel good, to feel worthy."

To find out more about the Ageing Better in Birmingham programme, head over to and to find out more about the Eat Well Together Club, contact [email protected]