Tributes are being paid to Vimla Storey, founder of women’s centre, 'Apna Ghar' who has died.

Mrs Storey first arrived in South Shields in 1970 after meeting her husband, James Storey, who had been working in the Merchant Navy in India, her home country.

With her husband away for work often, she began to feel lonely and while completing her social work degree, she realised that many other BAME women were feeling the same way.

So in 1987, Mrs Storey and her niece, Sheila Hussain, decided to set up Apna Ghar or ‘Our Home’ to help women going through similar circumstances feel at home in a safe space.

The social activities were initially held in Ms Hussain’s home until the two women were able to set up in a small shop-front unit in South Shields’ Flagg Court.

However, after a National Lottery Charity Fund Grant, match funding from South Tyneside Council’s Single Regeneration Budget and various other grants, they were able to move into a new premises.

Apna Ghar has since been operating from the city centre’s Ocean Road and has been able to increase their provisions including classes, childcare facilities and health awareness sessions.

Leader of South Shields Council, Councillor Iain Malcolm said: “South Tyneside is well known for its community cohesion, partnership working and excellent community relations across our diverse communities.

“This is due, in no small part to pioneering community leaders like Vimla to whom we all owe a huge debt of gratitude.  Her legacy lives on in the fantastic work done by Apna Ghar which continues to do so much for minority ethnic women and girls.”

Before her death, Mrs Storey had remained an active member of the centre by sitting on the board of trustees and continuing to contribute to the growth of the organisation.

Kishwar Haque, Deputy Chair at Apna Ghar said: “Following Vimla’s peaceful passing, there is a sense of loss but also a sense of achievement and a sense of celebration of the contribution that she has made to BAME communities.

“Vimla has touched everybody in some way or other and although we feel sad, this is quickly overtaken by the pride that we all feel with Vimla’s achievement in creating Apna Ghar - ‘Our Home’ - a name which was aptly chosen by Vimla which we sincerely hoped will be remembered by many generations to come.”

Apna Ghar Minority Ethnic Women's Centre is located at 124 Ocean Road, South Shields, Tyne & Wear and for further inforamtion  you can call them on 0191 456 4147.