SALT OF THE EARTH: Meet Trish Kinsella who is helping to change lives in Scarborough

It’s been a couple of months since we started our Salt of the Earth kindness campaign and we’ve already met some incredible people who are making a difference to the lives of those around them.

Thursday, 5th March 2020, 1:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th March 2020, 1:42 pm

One theme which has been evident while seeking out those people is how little they want to shout about the kind acts they are doing, seeing their gestures as simply good neighbourly, or “what anybody would do”.

In the eighth week of the campaign, community reporter Louise Perrin went to meet nominee Trish Kinsella, manager of The Rainbow Centre in Scarborough.

Entering the Rainbow Centre, you are greeted by a buzz, there is a tangible hum of activity combined with a clear concern and compassion for others.

Trish Kinsella in the Rainbow Centre cafe

As I climb the stairs to meet Trish, I’m greeted with a smile by Barry Lawrenson, who is taking five minutes away from his role in the Rainbow Centre cafe. I explain that I’m there to do an article on the good work that Trish does: “You’ll have to set aside a good few pages for her!” Barry said with a smile.

I walk into Trish’s office to find it crammed with people all needing her attention. The manner in which Trish quickly and efficiently answers each person’s query is impressive.

Trish said: “We see about 120 people per day here. People come from all walks of life, there are those who battle with drugs and addiction, families that can’t afford to live, people who need to use the food bank or the clothes bank, we just take care of them.

“The local community is totally amazing and supports us with clothes and bedding.

Trish Kinsella at her desk in the Rainbow Centre

“It’s never easy. I go home and I have sleepless nights about the food. Half of what we give out is donated, the other half we have to buy.

“There is no stereotypical person who uses the foodbank, just people who have fallen on hard times.”

As I’m interviewing her, we have to pause as a lady comes in to find funds to pay the £9.10 required for a prescription. It’s for blood pressure medication for a man who has no income as his benefits are not in place as yet.

Hushed and hurried conversations are held with other staff members, one a request to keep an eye on a vulnerable visitor, another to look out for an unseemly gentleman who may be in the area later.

Trish is officially employed by The Rainbow Centre for the work she does there, however, like many employed in the charitable sector, the hours worked and the hours paid by no means tally.

Most days she arrives at 7am and rarely leaves before 6.30pm, often putting in 70 hours per week. She’s paid for 36. On top of that, two or three nights a week, Trish is involved in wellness checks on Scarborough’s street homeless population, currently believed to total four.

Trish tells me about other work they do at the centre: “We buy electric for people with no electricity, make sure children have school uniforms, we try and make sure Eastern Europeans have enough money to return home if they want to go.

“The people that come here have been treated really badly. And they distrust people. What we try to do is give them the dignity and respect that they deserve.”

The centre has a TV lounge, interview rooms and a busy community cafe (which smells amazing!), where tea and coffee can be bought for less than 50p and a full breakfast is £3.30.

If I’m honest, I’m a little taken aback by the Rainbow Centre, there is a raw display of the need created by austerity and continued social cuts that you don’t normally see on a daily basis.

Watching Trish interact with the people in the cafe is awe inspiring. In just a few moments she has gently admonished one gentleman for not looking after his health, picked up and washed a stray dummy before returning it to its rightful owner, exchanged pleasantries with over a dozen visitors and staff, and made a cup of tea for one of the customers.

She exudes a calm authority and it is clear that she is well liked and trusted by staff and visitors.

I ask her how the centre is funded: “I’d like to say by faith,” she said. The Rainbow Centre is part of the outreach of St Mary’s. They receive a small grant from North Yorkshire County Council and a small amount from Scarborough Borough Council travel fund, other than that the centre relies on one-off grants and fundraising.

I asked Trish why she works at the Rainbow Centre. She frowns, saying her answer may not be politically correct: “I do all this because I believe this is where Jesus wants me to be,” she said. “People come in feeling helpless and we hope that when they leave, they leave with a little hope.

“We see anybody from across the borough, Whitby, Scarborough and Filey. Rainbow Money deals with people's finances and is currently working with £3 million debt. There’s no target group, everybody is different.”

And if Trish had three wishes, what would she do with them? “I’d like enough accommodation so no-one needs to be homeless - there shouldn’t be anybody homeless in this day and age,” she said.

“That people accept our clients for who they are.

“And I’d like enough money to be able to fund the things we would like to do, such as cooking classes.”

The Vicar of St Mary’s, Rev Richard Walker, said: “Trish is the most dedicated person I’ve ever come across. The care she shows towards people who have just found themselves in the worst places is amazing.

“She will advocate for people with all sorts of social complications at the same time and then work with them on a 1-2-1 personal level getting the best outcome for them.

“This has been her life for the past 20-plus years and she’s given everything to it.”

*****

The Rainbow Centre is a Christian organisation established in 1997 to offer practical support to vulnerable people regardless of age, gender or religion. Each year they make around 12,500 critical interventions, offering assistance during difficult circumstances and beyond.

They operate a food and clothing bank, giving out these items to people in need. There is a shower room, laundry, television lounge and a garden for people to enjoy in a safe, comfortable environment.

They also offer specialist financial and debt support advice through Rainbow Money.

The centre is reliant on the goodwill and generosity of the community and is in constant need of food donations, particularly non-perishable items and toiletries.

*****

If you know someone who goes out of their way to help you or a neighbour, perhaps checking in on an elderly relative, or maybe always being on hand to help change hard to reach light bulbs or fix a dripping tap, we’d love to hear out about them.

Why not tell us about them by emailing [email protected]