Bringing communities together

The Bangladeshi Women’s Association has been established for more than 35 years in the heart of Tipton, in the West Midlands. Funding from our Space to Connect partnership with Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) helped them to develop community spaces and bring different communities together.

“We give people a safe space where they feel comfortable [and] where people welcome them. They feel ownership in these buildings.”  

Syeda Khatun, CEO of Bangladeshi Women’s Association
– Syeda Khatun, CEO of Bangladeshi Women’s Association.  

This International Women’s Day, we’re putting a spotlight on the Bangladeshi Women’s Association (BWA) based in Tipton, in the West Midlands. 

The campaign for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. This encompasses BWA’s values as a female-led organisation working to challenge preconceptions by tackling inequality locally and bringing different communities together.  

Our funding has been used to strengthen diverse communities, providing opportunities for women to gain education and access to work. This International Women’s Day we want to celebrate BWA’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusivity. 

“We run activities to support disadvantaged communities, the most vulnerable really, who feel they are not able to go to mainstream services.

Syeda Khatun, CEO of Bangladeshi Women’s Association

Syeda continues, “A lot of the people we serve are women and people that other services can’t reach in the same way. They want to learn in the community, [and] they want to find something very local where they feel they belong. 

“By empowering our local communities with training and support, we’ve also got volunteers from our user groups. They now want to do more for their local communities and support the centres to keep them running.”

About the Bangladeshi Women’s Association 

The Bangladeshi Women’s Association has been serving its local community in Tipton for more than 35 years. 

They have two community spaces – the Tipton Muslim Centre and the Jubilee Park Centre – both of which aim to tackle inequality through IT classes, cookery classes, financial advice, food parcels and more.  

The centres’ different locations mean users often attend from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds. By bringing them together, the team is helping to break down barriers and deliver on Co-op’s vision of ‘Co-operating for a Fairer World’.  

Anam Choudhary, BWA Development Manager says: “As an organisation we can be really proud to say that we serve a diverse community. Although the organisation is named under one particular community, the Bangladeshi Women’s Association, our services cater for all sections of the community, regardless of background. As long as they need our services, we are here to provide them.” 


We awarded BWA £21,000 (£10,000 at the end of 2019, and follow-on funding at the end of 2020) from our Space to Connect funding partnership with DCMS. The aim of this funding was to help them explore how they could build spaces for people to connect and co-operate while tackling inequality.

BWA used these funds alongside their own expertise to work collaboratively with local communities and build connections between mainstream services and local people. They implemented suggestions from working with 350 local residents over three months, creating a programme of comprehensive research.

These local suggestions – including the idea for a new community allotment – means communities feel ownership of these spaces and come together to collaborate and grow ideas.

We were flexible with our funding, too, empowering BWA to react to its communities’ needs during the Covid-19 lockdown.

This included providing an additional £11,000 grant at the end of 2020. BWA used this to deliver workshops to local people. It also strengthened its management committee by training volunteers from the local area who had benefited from their community centres and wanted to give back. Read more about our flexible funding and eight IVAR commitments.

Breaking the Bias 

Through providing open spaces, tailored programmes and support for women, the female-led BWA has had a real impact in Tipton. 

Syeda says: “[BWA] is breaking cultural barriers for women who were not previously able to get out of the house and perhaps didn’t have the opportunity to get education.”

“Having this space at the heart of the community means that we’re able to empower women as well as those people who haven’t had the confidence to get out.”

Syeda Khatun, CEO of Bangladeshi Women’s Association

Space to Connect was our £1.6m partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. We supported 57 organisations across England, helping them to explore and enhance places where people could connect and co-operate. 

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