Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan – founder and the director of Tomorrow Together, a local co-operative transforming the lives of women by providing opportunities to build a new future talked to us about how Tomorrow Together came about.
Tell us about yourself
I have a very mixed education and work background that has helped me to do the work I do today. In my previous jobs I have worked for the private, public, community, international development and academic sectors. But my education is mainly around social and gender issues including criminology. I am a mother with a daughter who is 10 years of age – which is another job in itself!
Are there any particular reasons as to why you chose to help disadvantaged women?
Well, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had not received a good education and if I had not had the opportunity to work and build a career for myself. There are millions of women around the world who, unfortunately, are deprived of basic things such as education, freedom from violence and employment – all the things many of us take for granted. It is only fair for me to give something back in return for all that I have received, so that is where all this started!
What led you towards setting up a social enterprise?
When I started thinking of a pragmatic approach to providing employment for women, I did not have a clue of the model I was going to adopt. I only knew that I wanted to support women to help themselves to become empowered. Then I did what I always do when I have a problem; I sat at my computer and started researching and this is where I got to know about the social enterprise model and the support that CaSE-da could provide. So I made a call to Tim Tavener at CaSE-da and then it all started to happen.
Why did you choose the Co-operative business model?
I wanted to make employees a part of the organisation, for them to take ownership for the future of the organisation as well as for the growth of the community.
How far has Tomorrow Together come since it originated?
Tomorrow Together was set up as a co-operative in January 2010. During this short period of time, we have been able to create 10 sustainable jobs for people who have been long term unemployed. We have delivered a number of enterprise awareness training workshops and one to one coaching sessions. Over the past year we have successfully trained over 35 women to achieve level two awards in cleaning and eight women in health and safety training. This has assisted them to employment opportunities for themselves.
Tell us about your future plans for Tomorrow Together?
We are very keen on setting up a resource centre for women in business to support and encourage new start up co-operatives.
You also run a charity; can you tell us some more about the Zinthiya Trust?
The Zinthiya Trust is a registered charity set up in September 2009 and was instrumental in setting up Tomorrow Together. The charity supports disadvantaged women including those who have come in to contact with the criminal justice system, women fleeing domestic violence and those who have been in long term unemployment. To date we have supported more than 45 women from various backgrounds by providing an information and guidance service, volunteering opportunities, confidence building and delivering a friendly and safe drop in service. We also work with HMP Peterborough Prison helping women to resettle in the community.
How does Tomorrow Together work with the Trust?
Tomorrow Together was set up as a pragmatic approach to the unemployment problem faced by long term unemployed and disadvantaged women. Some of the users of the Trust are linked to the employment and training programmes offered by Tomorrow Together.
A final word..
The long term mission for Tomorrow Together is to become self sustainable and to support the charitable activities of the trust along with generating more employment and training opportunities for the long term unemployed in the community. We are a small organisation with limited resources and are always looking for volunteers to lend a helping hand. So please contact us if you would like to be involved.