The Ashiana Community Project are at the helm of bridging inequality gaps in Sparkhill, Birmingham.

By and large, their services centre on social determinants which contribute to a better quality of life.  This includes the provision of health and wellbeing support services, basic skills and vocational training, pathways to employment, welfare advice services and youth services.

“Ashiana is the Urdu word for ‘nest’, a safe nurturing place for growth and development, which is the approach and atmosphere we try to apply to our programs,” says Mr Hamid Lea, Sustainability Manager at Ashiana Community Project.

Their recent program focuses on heart health in the BAME community. Thanks to funding from Heart Research UK, Ashiana delivered webinars around heart health, cooking workshops and one-to-one diet planning and mentoring support. 

Studies show that 62% of adults in Birmingham are excess overweight or obese, and 37% of adults are not physically active. GPs have very little time to give any ongoing support to the patients to maintain any lifestyle changes. The community project anticipated that around two-thirds of participants were referred to the programme by their GP.

The aim is to educate participants about health factors around nutrition, exercise, stress and weight management. These factors support clinical improvements in heart health, blood sugar control and improved stress response.

The program consisted partly of interactive heart health webinars that are inexpensive to run and easy to access, which enabled the project to reach more people.

Participants who were already committed to making lifestyle changes but needed some ongoing support to make these changes received one-to-one diet and fitness planning, followed by ongoing mentoring support.

From this group, two healthy heart champions were recruited to provide motivational support.

In addition, the programme delivered seven cooking workshops for those who need extra support.

Participants who didn’t usually cook at home gained the confidence and motivation to change their eating habits.

Hear from participants

“Following completion of the program I am already starting to see the results of my goals, with weight loss and overall improvement to my mental wellbeing.”

“I found the course an eye-opener, identifying all the wrong foods that I was eating, being introduced to a whole range of healthier foods and diets to try with the importance of meal planning.”

“At the start, I felt that I did not need a motivational coach, but after the first session I would disagree, the sessions have helped me with reducing my stress levels, improving my sleep and sticking to my new fitness plan.”

Helen Flaherty, Head of Health Promotion and Education at Heart Research UK said:

“We are thrilled to have been able to support this project which aids the Sparkbrook community in supporting people at risk of heart disease to make necessary lifestyle changes. We know it can be a challenging step to make for people which is why programmes such as this one are vital in promoting healthy hearts.”

Visit The Ashiana Community Project to find out more.

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Uzma Gulbahar holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University College of London. She is particularly interested in exploring untold stories surrounding marginalised groups, identity and culture.

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