The History of Sähëlï

Educate, Motivate, Inspire
And Empower

Sähëlï Women’s Group (SWG) was formed in 1998 as part of the Balsall Heath Forum initiative to set up resident’s groups in the area.

The group met on a fortnightly basis and discussed the needs of local women. The group identified a need for a ‘women only facility’ where women could meet and could become involved in health and fitness sessions and healthy lifestyle activities. In October 1999 the group commissioned a feasibility study through The Digbeth Trust to look into the establishment of a women’s centre in Balsall Heath.

The study by Lynne Howells with 236 local women (through questionnaires and two organised meetings) confirmed local women overwhelming wanted a local facility that took into account the culturally sensitive needs of local Muslim women. The study identified the primary activities in the women’s centre should be:

  • Health and fitness sessions
  • Aerobic/fitness classes
  • Health and lifestyle information.

History and Development

The crucial requirement would be that it was run by women, for women. It would be locally based, fully accessible and with sessions at convenient times.

In 2004 Sähëlï piloted an exercise and fitness program through the Healthy Living Centre initiative to see if ‘women only’ exercise classes and activities would work. The activities started one day a week in the Learning Library space in the newly launched South Birmingham College – Cannon Hill Training and Education Centre. By September the sessions were so popular that Sähëlï operated Monday to Friday on site.

In 2007 SWG secured a grant from Sport England’s – Active England fund (£218,252 for capital costs to extend the Learning Library into a fully functioning gym and £159,00 for staff and running costs over 3 years) the “Adventure Hub” was launched on the 26th June 2006. The Adventure Hub had a fully functioning health and fitness facility with over 20 pieces of exercise equipment, changing rooms, a wooden sprung floor for exercise classes, showers and toilets.

Through the Adventure Hub Sähëlï demonstrated that women do want to take part in exercise, fitness & sport – even Asian women – as long it is done in a culturally sensitive way. In 2007 SWG secured a commissioned service from Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust (PCT) to work with 170 local women to support them to manage their long-term health conditions and in 2012 this support spread to Birmingham East & North PCT and Sähëlï was working with 1,000 women every year.

In 2016 Sähëlï moved its services and activities into the Calthorpe Play Centre. The site was renovated through Birmingham’s Wellbeing Service to house our BeActive Plus program.

Sähëlï Hub has grown into a strategic partner working with The Active Well Being Society and its partners to ensure all women have more opportunities to take part in exercise, fitness, sport in our great city. In 2018 Sähëlï are pioneering Social prescribing to provide a wider service for the women Sähëlï support in Balsall Heath, Sparkhill and Sparkbrook, in B8 – Alum Rock Bordesley Green, Small Heath, Ward End and now in Handsworth, Birchfield and Lozells.

Sähëlï Women’s Group became Sähëlï Hub a Company limited by guarantee (number: 8373929) and a Registered Charity (number: 1153202) as of April 2016.


Sähëlï Hub Supports women to achieve a minimum of 30 minutes physical activity, five days-a-week, helping to reduce the risk of a range of health conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke & diabetes.

“I have lost 3 stone because I had a routine with Sähëlï which pushed me to eat well alongside all the encouragement they gave me to get fit.I show others now, how to get involved in being more active.”

Nas 41

“This morning has been one of the best mornings of my life! At the tender age of 27, I have finally managed to learn how to ride a bike. A massive thank you to the Sähëlï Hub – amazing instructors, full of life and smiles in the morning with lots of encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without this group. Love it!”

Samia 27.

“I lost my husband three weeks before I found Sähëlï Hub. They helped me to get myself together without being a burden on my family”.

Tina 48

“These sessions are amazing – a choice of fitness classes or badminton. I can’t wait to go to sleep on Thursday night as I can’t wait to get up on Friday morning and play badminton and see the usual crowd.”


“An excellent class. Something I look forward to every week. Beneficial in every way – physical, emotional and social. Thank You.”