AN ELDERLY support group which was awarded a £37,000 grant is reluctant to allow women to join in activities.

Waltham Forest Asian Seniors Group, which was set up 15 years ago, is made up of mostly Pakistani Muslim men.

The aim of the group is to bring isolated members of the Asian community together but women do not attend meetings due to cultural beliefs.

Project manager Dr Shuakat Khan said he and his management team are working to break down barriers between the two genders.

He said: “We are trying to bring men and women together because we want to address issues in our community such as domestic violence and different Islamic interpretations.

“But a lot of the men are not comfortable sitting next to a woman.

“Some of them feel that the women’s needs are greater than theirs so they would feel threatened if they joined.

“We now have female volunteers giving health check-ups and teaching exercises and although the men were reluctant to leave them in at the start they are getting used to it.

“Change is happening but it is slow and not all members are as progressive as us.”

The group has approximately 60 members and was awarded a grant by the Peoples’ Health Trust last year.

Although women do attend occasional outings with the group, they do not join in the weekly meetings.