Joginder Kaur Kundhi, an elderly Punjabi woman who has lived in Brent for over 23 years, suffered from throat cancer and was on the deathbed three times. However, through sheer determination and strength, fought against the disease, but still lost her voice. She now has a speech-generating device that allows her to speak.


After a long battle with her illness, she decided to give something back to the community and wanted to help lonely and widowed women in Brent find solace in one another. Joginder founded the Brent Punjabi Association in November 2010, a charity that aims to help the elderly stay healthy and happy. They have weekly 4 hour sessions where they meet up and do a series of exercises together. The objective is to promote the health and wellbeing of women who have gone through hardships in life such as illness, loneliness and isolation. 


My grandmother, Perminder Dhanjal, is a loyal member of the association and has been attending sessions for the past four years. I decided to interview her to understand how the association has helped her along with many other women from different backgrounds.


“The centre creates a community” where women make “many new friends” and are able to “support each other.” My grandmother thoroughly enjoys her weekly Tai Chi lessons, in which she and her friends are taught a variety of exercises, meditation and maintain a healthy wellbeing. She states “this is extremely important for women my age so that we stay in good health.” It also helps her learn the importance of breathing and posture movement. 


As well as this, they learn Bollywood dancing from an instructor, stimulating a vibrant and lively atmosphere. This allowed them to participate in the local Diwali concert, in which they danced with one another and supported the local community. My grandmother particularly enjoys this as it has given her the chance to “learn new skills” and gain “friends for life." Furthermore, it has given women the chance to participate in physical activities they typically would not. 


The Brent Punjabi Association also acts as an information centre for the women. For example, Joginder Kundhi organised the police to visit the association and talk to the elderly women about how they can maintain safety when in public. My grandmother thought it was a very insightful experience that taught them how to hold their purses safely and what they needed to do if they were ever in danger. They were also provided with panic alarms that could be activated, which instilled confidence in them. 


Overall, the Brent Punjabi Association has helped many women by providing them with a place for socialising and meeting new people, experiencing a variety of activities and sustaining activity levels as well as remaining fit. Therefore, it has made a large impact on many lives of women because of its sense of community and promotion of health and wellbeing.


Priyal Dhanjal