As the cost of living crisis continues to hit vulnerable communities across Birmingham, one charity has been providing a lifeline to older people facing financial hardship.
Since 1977, Birmingham Asian Resource Centre (BARC) has been a cornerstone of community life in the suburb of Handsworth. Originally founded to campaign on social justice and provide refuge for victims of domestic abuse, its mission has expanded to focus on supporting Handsworth’s older population and their carers. The charity offers them a chance to socialise, exercise, and attend advice clinics.
Most of the older people BARC works with have no additional income beyond the state pension, so heavily rely on the help of charities to make ends meet.
Like many charities, BARC has been hit hard by surging energy bills and inflation, but a grant from the Independent Age charity has meant it could expand its services to tackle loneliness and poverty. This has included new health and wellbeing programmes targeted at those whose mother tongue is not English. BARC also provides a warm hub where as many as 30 older people come to get a hot meal, relax and socialise each week.
Juma Begum, Project Coordinator and Centre Manager at BARC, said:
“The impact of the cost of living crisis has been truly horrendous on the people we work with. The area we’re in suffers from high levels of deprivation; people who already had very little now are really struggling, which has made the role of charities like BARC even more critical than before. We are seeing between 50 and 70 new faces every month – a damning indictment of the struggles that have become a daily reality for many older vulnerable people, particularly those from Asian backgrounds in the area we serve.
“Every day, I see firsthand the difference we can make to people’s lives. One gentleman in his 70s, who used to be a tailor, came to us and said though he is no longer able to sew himself, he wanted to teach others how to make traditional Asian attire and pass on his knowledge to the next generation.
“The change in him since doing this has been incredible, and he says this has given him the opportunity to grow in self-confidence and value himself. With Independent Age’s help, I hope that we are able to help more people like him live happier, healthier lives, and help them to weather the worst of the cost of living storm.”
For more information about BARC, visit: asianresource.org.uk.