A COFFEE morning with a difference is helping women open up about their deepest troubles - without shame or stigma.

There are queues of almost 50 women outside the Millan Centre in Manningham for Saliha Sadiq’s tea-fuelled therapy sessions.

Wednesday and Friday have become two of the most important days of the week for many women in Bradford.

There are many experiences shared with a trusted group of allies. Conversations could range from strained relationships or anxious thoughts to financial struggles and generational divides.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Saliha Sadiq, pictured, leading a sessionSaliha Sadiq, pictured, leading a session (Image: Newsquest, Mike Simmonds)

For one woman - who wished to remain anonymous - her long-hidden struggles are now out in the open.

"I was at a point where I wanted to end my life," she said.

"Since I started counselling it has opened my eyes to see my problems a different way. There is always someone there to help, I am not alone. I don’t need to hide my problems.

“I’m hoping to start college, I have goals to look forward to, my relationship with family has improved.”

Demand has been so high that Saliha, the centre’s director of mental health, is now running two sessions. 

Taking place between 9.30am and 12pm, there is an over 50s group on Wednesday's and under 50s group on Friday's.

“Everybody’s crying out for help,” said co-chair Saliha.

“It doesn’t matter what background you’re from. 

“We’ve got so many people turning up from BD3, BD5 - somebody said they’re from Girlington but they’ve heard about the coffee mornings - what we’ve decided to do is have two coffee mornings. 

“Sometimes after the therapy they like to talk to me independently. I’m there all day long.

“This is your safe space. Every time I start group therapy I have to talk about confidentiality and trust. It’s an open-door policy.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

“We had a lady who said for 50 years I’ve not talked about my journey when I got married as a young child bride. It was nice to see how people were joining in saying, ‘what if you did this’ or ‘what if next time somebody did this’. We reflect on experiences and how we can help others. 

“When they sit down together it helps you to understand but also helps you help others.

“Sometimes there’s 45 women turning up.

“The numbers are increasing. They want to feel part of discussions and feel empowered.

"We’re here to help each other.”

With every sip of coffee, the stigma around mental wellbeing is slowly melting away.

“Even the word mental health, it’s still taboo,” said Saliha.

“We still need to break these barriers. The word freaks people out. We’re here for mental wellbeing support. 

“I start off saying, you have physical health problems, you go to the doctors. Why are we not doing the same - getting help - when we’re suffering from mental health?”

The sessions are open to all - including refugees and asylum seekers - and Saliha speaks Urdu for those who may require translations.