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Removing the barriers – Shama Women’s Centre


Vic Sethi of the Anand and Sethi Family Trust, Leicester, visits one of the many charities that benefit from the Trust.

I was privileged to visit the Shama Women’s Centre by invitation of Khudeja Amer-Sharif , CEO, and Chair, Yasmin Nathani. The Shama Women’s Centre provides counselling, support and life skills to women with multiple barriers.

It was a magnificent experience from the start to the end of the tour of the centre, in Sparkenhoe Street. I was impressed with every team member I met, all of them very passionate about their work. They provide legal services, health counselling and assistance to women who have been victims of domestic violence and also give bereavement support. They help with education and offer skills training and support in transforming their lives.

Support of vulnerable women is a cause strongly supported by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, which is why she and Prince Charles went to visit people from the Shama Women’s centre during a tour of the city in February.

Khudeja told me: “The response and feedback from the local community following the Royal visit was really heart-warming, with a flurry of phone calls and emails from well-wishers and supporters”.

A home away from home – Shama Women’s Centre is a safe haven for women from diverse backgrounds; many of whom face multiple obstacles, such as lack of employment skills, education, and are often at risk of, or victims of, domestic abuse, facing social and economic isolation. As the only centre of its kind that caters for the needs of the most ethnically diverse city in UK, its multi-lingual staff and volunteers provide women and their families with holistic support packages.

Image credit: Shama Women’s Centre

Not only does the centre include all types of counselling and training in its women-only purpose-built training centre, it offers accredited qualifications, language support, help into work, volunteering and work placements.

It runs a range of social activities, through creative workshops, peer-support, and access to gym, sauna and nursery helping women overcome isolation. It was established by a group of women as a local hub in Highfields, Leicester. Over the years its services have attracted women and their families across the City and County and has empowered over 30,000 women. I received a call from Khadeja Amer-Sharif who briefed me on the work of the charity and extended an invitation to visit the centre.

The Anand & Sethi family decided to donate to the charity on a regular basis as we feel the work of the charity is great and has helped in changing lives of so many. Shama Women centre is celebrating its 35th anniversary on Tuesday the 10th of March 2020 which is taking place at Chutney Ivy restaurant in Leicester. The family has donated to support the event. While having a tour at the Centre, I learned that the Centre was in need of replacing three laptops in the IT section which were for training purposes, so I have taken the responsibility of replacing them.

The resilience of its staff and volunteers and support of service users has been key to its survival, with reliance on funding through grants; which are increasingly short term and the centre recognises the need to diversify its income sources to survive.

The centre’s BACP qualified counsellors are expanding to provide mental health counselling and training packages to organisations as well as families. In the past four years, more than 1,200 families accessed the service, with a huge £2.1 million of savings to the local Health and Social Care budget.


For more information about how you can support this amazing centre, please contact:

Khudeja Amer-Sharif (CEO) Contact No: 0116 251 4747

Website: Facebook: Twitter: @shamawomenscentre @shamacentre

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