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Marking International Women’s Day

This annual event celebrates the achievements of women and looks at how we can create a more inclusive world.

We’re all about celebrating success at PCH – whether it’s the accomplishments of our residents, customers, staff or Board members.

We speak to two women in the PCH community who have shown that with hard work and determination, you can overcome challenges to achieve anything.

Lavinia Porfir, PCH Board Member

Lavinia moved to this country from Romania and lives here with her husband and daughter.

As well as being one of our Board members and Chair of our Customer Focus Committee, Lavinia works at the Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council. She recently obtained her diploma as a Care Act Advocate under the Care Act 2014.

Although she’s been here nearly a decade and feels settled, Lavinia does not believe her journey has ended, but is ongoing.

“I can’t believe it’s almost nine years since I made one of the most important decisions of my life - to move to another country and start from the beginning. These nine years have passed so quickly but it also feels like I have been here for much longer as I adapted well and I am part of this society.”

Lavinia took a sabbatical from her role as a city council worker in Romania to come  here, keen to explore the world before her.

She added: “I had the passion to meet new people from different cultures and traditions. 

“The journey was not easy and even now is still a challenge. When I moved to Plymouth I did not know anyone except my husband. The social loss represents one of the first barriers that you need to cope with and you need to be strong enough to accept it.

“As a woman, I was not aware that I have so many strengths hidden inside myself. I had to rediscover and challenge myself. I started volunteering which gave me the chance to meet new people and to understand the UK system. I got involved in many projects and took each day as new opportunity to contribute to society. 

“Step by step, I overcome some of the barriers in front of me: language (I accept now my strong Eastern European accent), the cultural differences, the prejudice and the unconscious bias. 

“I do not really like to give advice, but I am asking women to value themselves more, to find the strengths and the resources to obtain what they want and to challenge life and barriers every day. You are more powerful than you know. 

“The fact that I am able to say my story is proof that society is more inclusive now, but there is still more to do.”


Muhunthiny ‘Tinny’ Sivasothy

Until last week, Plymouth businesswoman Tinny ran Lanhydrock Stores in Lipson for more than seven years, seven days a week.

She recently gave up the lease on her shop, one of our commercial premises, to look after her daughter following an accident.

Tinny has kept the shop open throughout lockdowns, although at one point did consider closing.

Her loyal customers, however, would not hear of it. She remained open and even did home deliveries.

To say her time at the shop was eventful is something of an understatement. Tinny bravely fought off an armed robber in 2015 after he came in demanding money from her till.

Her heroics saw her go on to win a police Good Citizenship Award. Sadly, a couple of years later, she was repeatedly targeted by vandals who smashed her shop windows.

She says the support of locals and customers have helped her through the difficult times.

“Local people are very supportive,” she said. “They all know me and I know their names.”

Which is why leaving her shop was hard for her. She admits she was in tears and was inundated with flowers and cards on her last day.

She added: “It was heartbreaking but I told them I would be back. I have been doing some shopping for some of the elderly residents and I spend time talking to them.”