Jewish Care re-shapes community centre provision

05 Nov 2020

The last few months have been incredibly challenging for Jewish Care and for our community. As a result of these challenges, there are a number of changes taking place, including a reassessment of our community service provision.  

When the Covid-19 pandemic began, we immediately expanded our provision of Meals on Wheels, befriending and digital and virtual services and hoped that would best serve our community through the immediate situation. We were also making detailed plans to resume some of our face to face services this autumn.  

Unfortunately, there is no immediate possibility to go back into our community centres, day centres, Connect@ centres and centres for people living with dementia due to the general rise of national cases of Covid-19. This has forced us to reassess and accelerate our strategic review to make sure our community services are viable, sustainable and relevant to the communities we serve now and into the future.   

Given this current situation, we can now best serve our members by investing in and further enhancing the outreach programme that we have developed and accelerating the plans we were developing in our strategic review.  

This will involve a reorganisation of our centres, to consolidate and build on the success of the outreach services already developed.   

Regretfully, we are simply unable to sustain the full range of the centres’ staff that were needed to run the services when we could meet all our members in person. Unfortunately, this means that the majority of roles in the centres are at risk of redundancy as services are consolidated. The impact of Covid-19 on Jewish Care remains high and we estimate that the additional financial impact to the end of March 2021 could be as much as £7m.

This has been an extremely difficult decision for us to make, and we have not taken it lightly. We deeply value the contribution of each and every one of our staff and the care and love they bring to their work, but we take our responsibility for the future of the organisation incredibly seriously and must act in light of the current and foreseeable circumstances.  

The wellbeing of our clients will always be a priority, and despite there being some changes to staffing structures, we will ensure that the vital services we have been able to provide including regular calls to clients are maintained and the needs of those we look after, continue to be met through our outreach and digital programmes, befriending and Meals on Wheels services.   

Alongside our staff, we have a passionate and dedicated volunteer workforce who have long established relationships with our members, and they will continue to play a vital role in delivering our services.   

The staff at the centres who face the potential redundancy of their roles, will, where possible, be offered redeployment interviews with Jewish Care subject to there being suitable alternative roles. We will, of course, support and assist all our staff as much we can with other job interviews.  

We are looking forward to resuming activities and meeting in person when it is safe to do so. However, as the resumption of in-person, regular activity will be dependent on the status of the Covid-19 pandemic, Government guidelines and public health advice, we don’t yet know when this will be.  

We are hopeful that once this can happen, our members will be able to enjoy the extensive programmes, food and activities they have always enjoyed, alongside an even wider offering of more flexible and outreach activities that can reach a far wider section of the community who also need our support.   

Jonathan Zenios, Chair, Jewish Care said: 

“Jewish Care needs to continue to adapt and to change, to meet challenges as we find them but to always put the needs of those who need us most first. However difficult the decisions we face may be, we face them knowing that they will help us to meet those needs now and into the future.

Our new community service plan will allow us to be there for more members of the community who need us, even if they are not able to travel to our community centres. We will always be where we are needed, through our social work teams, our Jewish Care Direct Helpline and through our new consolidated outreach community services. Our vision is for a virtual community centre to sit alongside our real centres when they can eventually reopen. A virtual community centre which offers our members food, company and stimulating activities even if they can’t be together because of either a global pandemic or because they are not physically able.

These are challenging times but responding to them quickly and thoughtfully ensures our long-term resilience. I also know that we can continue to count on the fantastic support of our thousands of volunteers and hugely generous supporters alongside the tremendous commitment of our workforce.”