Charity funding boost for new healthy heart programme in Coventry

University news / Research news

Thursday 23 October 2014

Press contact

Press Team

A new healthy lifestyle initiative being run by Coventry University in collaboration with a women’s centre in the city and starting next week has received a boost with news of major funding from a national charity.

The Healthy Heart programme, jointly administered by University researchers and FWT – A Centre for Women (Foleshill Women’s Training Ltd), aims to improve the health of female Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups in the Foleshill area of Coventry* and has just been awarded almost £10,000 from Heart Research UK.

The funding will support 30 women on three eight-week healthy heart programmes running consecutively at FWT (10 women on each course), the first of which starts on Thursday 30 October.
Beginning with a heart health MOT (measuring blood pressure, BMI, waist and resting heart rate) each programme will go on to include educational sessions, healthy eating advice, cookery lessons and fun exercise classes.

Participants will discover the risk factors that can lead to heart disease and how to prevent them; learn how to cook traditional, cultural food in a heart-healthy way; and get fit through female-only exercise sessions such as belly dancing and Zumba.  

Along the way, Coventry University researchers will be monitoring progress to gauge improvements in participants’ knowledge and to note any lifestyle behaviour changes. With their colleagues from FWT they will also be encouraging participants to volunteer as ‘Healthy Heart Ambassadors’, spreading the healthy heart message among their friends, families and local community and helping them to develop their own healthy heart initiatives.

Those taking part will receive a further health MOT at the end of the course and organisers are planning to produce a cookbook containing the healthy recipes taught on the course, to be distributed through mosques, churches and community centres. 

The people behind the programme believe that its impact will be far reaching. 

Research lead Stefanie Williams from Coventry University said: 

Health inequality within Coventry is evident, with the average life expectancy for women in the Foleshill area being eight years lower than the rest of the city. We need to tackle this so we’re delighted to have been awarded funding from Heart Research UK for this project in collaboration with FWT Ltd. 

We’ve developed what we believe is a fun, culturally-appropriate, programme specifically tailored for BME women in the most deprived area of Coventry. We’re sure that the course we’ve designed in partnership with FWT and Heart Research UK will bring about positive lifestyle changes in the women who take part and believe that these benefits will also be reflected in the wider community.

Christine McNaught, Chief Executive Officer of Foleshill Women’s Training Ltd, said:

This funding enables us to engage and support hard to reach women in the community, and offers a fun and informal programme of healthy heart activities to enable them to improve theirs and their children’s health. We are delighted to be working with Coventry University on this brand new and innovative project.

Katharine Greathead, Lifestyle Officer at Heart Research UK, said:

We are delighted to fund this project that will see women in Coventry gain the knowledge, confidence and skills to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes that will benefit their hearts both now and in the long-term.

The first session of the Healthy Heart programme starts on Thursday 30 October at the FWT Centre, 70 -72 Elmsdale Avenue, Foleshill, Coventry CV6 6ES.  The programme runs for eight weeks and finishes on Thursday 18 December with a celebratory lunch event. Further programmes will run in January and March 2015.

For more information about the programmes, including details of how to enrol, contact Tirth Hyare at FWT on +44 (0)24 7663 7693 or via e-mail /

* The Foleshill Ward is the most deprived ward in Coventry with the highest levels of health inequalities (Coventry Partnership - Facts about Coventry 2013) with the average life expectancy for women in Foleshill being eight years lower than the rest of Coventry. Furthermore, 61% of the population in this area are from a BME background. BME populations are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Coronary heart disease accounts for 25% of all deaths of those living in England and Wales but born in South Asia (Scarborough et al, 2010). 

For further information, please contact Mark Farnan, communications assistant, Coventry University, on +44 (0)24 7765 8245 or email

FWT - A Centre for Women
Foleshill Women’s Training Ltd is an award winning, women only centre, operating since 1989. It is dedicated to helping women in Coventry and the surrounding areas through its social, health and economic programmes. FWT is run by women, for women, and offers a women only space for accessing education, training, healthcare and employment opportunities. More information is available on the centre's website.

Heart Research UK
Heart Research UK is a visionary charity that funds ground-breaking medical research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease. Having funded six of the first eight successful UK heart transplants, Heart Research UK has been helping hearts by supporting clinical and surgical projects and young researchers on their first steps into research. 

Since the charity was formed in 1967 it has funded over £21m on research projects in hospitals and universities across the UK.  Since the start of its Healthy Heart Grant programme in 2001, it has also awarded over £1.75m to community- based lifestyle projects that aim to prevent or reduce the risks of heart disease. What’s raised locally is spent on local projects. Further information is available on the Heart Research UK's website.