Set up by Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan back in 2009, the aim of Leicester’s Zinthiya Trust is to support women and girls to be free from poverty and abuse.
Based in Bishop Street, the charity has helped thousands of people to date through a variety of services which include: support and advice to women facing abuse, money and debt advice, counselling and other practical support such as food vouchers, school uniforms and baby items.
The trust has been named as one of the charity partners for this year’s Leicester Curry Awards.
Zinthiya told the Leicester Times that the support couldn’t have come at a better time for the charity, as more people are struggling due to the current cost of living crisis.
“We greatly appreciate the support, which is very timely because small charities at grass root levels are facing many different challenges, and one of those can be to generate support from the wider community,” she said.
“These are hard times for everyone, but the demand on the charity has increased, so having the support can make a massive difference.”
Before Covid, The Zinthiya Trust supported about 1,000 people a year. However, during the pandemic this figure skyrocketed to over 3,000 people, Zinthiya revealed, adding that “the trend has continued.”
“Increasingly, we are seeing lots of people who are not only unemployed, but also in employment facing in-work poverty, because what they’re getting at the end of the month is not enough to cover their bills,” she explained.
“So those are some of the challenges that society’s facing right now.”
As well as providing practical support to women and girls experiencing poverty and abuse, The Zinthiya Trust also helps with their education and job prospects.
It has experience of supporting people through their employment journey from building confidence, to providing work experience and employment opportunities.
The Chapel Café is where the charity helps long term unemployed people gain qualifications to move into sustainable employment. To date it has helped over 150 people gain qualifications and access the job market.
Zinthiya says that although the work she does is challenging, it is also extremely rewarding, and something she is increasingly passionate about.
She is originally from Sri-Lanka, a developing country, where she witnessed vast amounts of violence, abuse and inequality.
However, when Zinthiya came to the UK, she saw the same thing happening here, “in many different forms.”
“That is when I decided to continue to do what I am passionate about,” she revealed.
“It can be challenging, but equally rewarding, especially in times like this when violence against women is on the increase, and when we’re facing the cost of living crisis, with many families facing money/debt issues and also mental health problems,” she added.
“There’s many challenging issues that we’re facing as a society at the moment, so therefore work can be challenging. But equally when you see someone who you’ve supported come out the other side, and you’ve changed or transformed their lives, it can be very rewarding.”
Apart from winning numerous awards over the years, Zinthiya says that the thing she’s most proud of achieving with the trust, is the fact that over 85 per cent of her current staff and volunteers are previous service users.
“About 40 per cent of these are ex-offenders, who have never gone back to reoffending,” she added proudly.
People can help the charity by volunteering in its food bank or community shop, or by conducting a food and essential items drive to collect items for the facilities.
Donations of food, such as tinned vegetables, tea, coffee, soup and pasta are also sought, as well as toiletries, cleaning products, good quality bedding, sanitary items and baby items.
“The demand on the food bank and community shop has increased, because people are struggling to make ends meet, but also we have emergency accommodation that we have to provide,” Zinthiya explained.
“But we’re also looking for people who can just become ambassadors, and raise funds for us, or simply donate whenever they can,” she added.
To find out more about The Zinthiya Trust, visit: https://www.zinthiyatrust.org/