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 inflation, threatening its work. But, thanks to a £40,000 Emergency Cost of Living Grant from national older people’s charity Independent Age, BARC has been able to enhance and 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.

BARC has used part of the grant from Independent Age to enhance its advice surgeries, where attendees can receive benefit assessments, as well as being assessed for grants and trust funds with the aim of maximising their income. BARC’s volunteers will also help attendees with things like affordable payment plans for utilities.

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.”

Dan Ellitts, Grants Consultant at Independent Age, said:

“We are incredibly proud to work with and fund some of the vital work BARC has been doing as part of our Emergency Cost of Living Grants Fund. When we announced our £2 million fund, we were inundated with applications from charities like BARC from all four corners of the UK. The cost of living crisis is having a devastating impact on many older people, pushing more older people into financial hardship and making life unbearable. Having supported the community for nearly 50 years, I know that BARC is perfectly placed to provide support to the older people of Handsworth.”  

BARC is one of 50 charities across the length and breadth of the UK who have received funding through Independent Age’s Cost of Living Grants Fund. Partly supported by a £1 million donation from Pension Insurance Corporation (‘PIC’) a specialist insurer of defined benefit pension schemes, Independent Age has provided £2 million of grant funding to charities across the length and breadth of the UK to help fund their activities and ensure older people do not have to choose between heating and eating.


Notes to editors

For media enquiries please contact

Emily Mahon,, 07818 269345

About Independent Age

We offer regular friendly contact, a strong campaigning voice and free, impartial advice on the issues that matter to older people: care and support, money and benefits, health and mobility. A charity founded over 150 years ago, we are independent so older people can be too.

For more information, visit our website

Arrange to speak to one of our advisers for free and confidential advice and information. Freephone 0800 319 6789 or email

To find out more about the Independent Age Cost of Living Grants Fund, see:

About Birmingham Asian Resource Centre

Birmingham Asian Resource Centre is a front-line community-based, not-for-profit organisation situated in the Handsworth district of Birmingham. The Centre served the needs of the local communities, most of whom are BAME, through the use of their own mother-tongues, with a deep understanding of the religious, cultural and national aspirations of the people it serves. It provides resources and practical help, with a coherent policy of anti-racism, anti-sexism and non-discriminatory practices.

We have become a trusted anchor organisation, supporting many people with welfare benefits, debt as well as housing and support services for the elderly. As the pandemic continues, BAME people will face new and growing challenges on a daily basis. Therefore, it is more important than ever that they are able to access resources to help them manage their well-being in a way that suits their needs.

To find out more about BARC, see:

About PIC

The purpose of PIC is to pay the pensions of its current and future policyholders. PIC provides secure retirement incomes through comprehensive risk management and excellence in asset and liability management, as well as exceptional customer service. At 30 June 2022, PIC had insured 293,400 pension scheme members and had £44.1 billion in financial investments, accumulated through the provision of tailored pension insurance buyouts and buy-ins to the trustees and sponsors of UK defined benefit pension schemes. To date, PIC has made total pension payments of almost £9 billion to its policyholders. Clients include FTSE 100 companies, multinationals and the public sector. PIC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority (FRN 454345). For further information please visit


Share this article

Print this page