Jewish Care brings freedom from loneliness this Pesach08 Mar 2021
Jewish Care has launched an appeal this Pesach to help support the charity’s Social Work and Community Support Team and Helpline who have been there to help thousands of people in need during the pandemic and will continue to be there as the country starts to prepare its way out of this challenging period. The organisation needs to raise over £150,000 each month to keep these services going.
The Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately forced many people to isolate over the last year, exacerbating loneliness and increasing the need for communities to come together and support those who are vulnerable
The Helpline has answered 20,000 calls since the start of the pandemic and the social work team are supporting 1200 clients. As well as providing highly trained, professional support, warmth, compassion, advice and guidance, these vital services are also helping to keep a Jewish connection alive for many older people in our community.
For some people, this will be through receiving one of the 50,000 hot, kosher meals from the organisation’s Meals on Wheels service, which have been delivered by volunteers since the start of lockdown. 3000 meals are delivered to the community each month. Others will have been referred to Jewish Care’s Digital Engagement Lead who will support them to go online to connect with others in the community through virtual events.
David Rein, 91, rarely sees anyone face to face and Covid-19 has forced him to isolate, so he relies on his daily Meals on Wheels visit from a Jewish Care volunteer. David says the volunteers who deliver the meals are ‘lifesavers’, providing delicious hot, Kosher meals when he can’t get to the shops, and a regular friendly face to chat to. David enjoys talking to his family, and he also looks forward to a call every week from Dennis, his telephone befriender, who calls to make sure he is never lonely.
The charity has also supported many older people to make the transition from their own home or a hospital-stay, into a Jewish Care home where they are expertly cared for and can share in celebrating festivals and Shabbat with a close community.
Myrtle was a full-time carer for her husband David. Caring for him alone took a huge toll on her and when she could no longer cope, she called the Jewish Care Direct Helpline. The Social Work Team helped David to move to Jewish Care’s Vi & John Rubens House. Shortly after he passed away, Myrtle was also diagnosed with dementia and visits to the community centre became a vital way for her to stay connected to her community. When the centre had to close with the start of the pandemic, Myrtle was still able to maintain that vital social connection through our online tea parties and other virtual events. Since the Coronavirus pandemic, Myrtle also receives Meals on Wheels and a phone call once a week from one of our volunteer telephone befrienders, all vital connections to stop her from being isolated.
Laurence, Myrtle’s son and her full-time carer, says, “My mum’s face lights up when she sees all her friends on the Zoom tea parties every month. It’s so important to her to stay connected and to keep her mind busy. Jewish Care have made sure that can still happen, even through this pandemic.”
Another member of the community, Susan, also cared for her husband George on her own for many years. As his mobility declined, getting out of their first floor flat without a lift became impossible. When Susan could no longer cope alone, she contacted Jewish Care and was put in touch with Tracey from our Family Carers Team and senior social worker, Yvonne.
Together, they guided her through moving George to Jewish Care’s Otto Schiff care home. Susan says, “Through the pandemic, the staff have made sure we stay in touch through phone calls, video calls and now visiting in a booth, keeping George, myself and all the staff safe. After 53 years of marriage, it means so much to me to be able to see him.”
Right in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rosemary was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Rosemary’s family all live far away, and she never felt more alone than when her brother passed away. Rosemary felt that she needed to reconnect with her Jewish roots and a friend gave Rosemary the Jewish Care Direct Helpline number. She spoke to one of the Helpline advisors, Ruth, who listened to her story, and understood how important connection with the Jewish community is to Rosemary. Ruth helped Rosemary to connect with her local synagogue and told her about Jewish Care’s online Parkinson’s Support Group, which she now attends regularly through video conferencing.
Rosemary says, “It’s been such a difficult time, talking to others who understand what I’m going through with Parkinson’s is a huge relief. Without Jewish Care I wouldn’t have connected back with my Jewish community and people who understand my illness.”
Jewish Care’s Chief Executive, Daniel Carmel-Brown, says, “Jewish Care’s Social Work and Community Support Team and Helpline is there to support lonely and isolated members of the community and those in need, but this service comes at a cost. It receives no Government funding and is completely reliant on the generosity of our community. Jewish Care needs to raise over £150,000 every single month to keep the Social Work and Community Support Service going.
“We depend on the kindness of caring people in our community to ensure we can continue to help everyone in our community who needs us, so please make a donation to help us continue to free our clients from loneliness this Pesach and beyond.”
To donate to Jewish Care’s Pesach Appeal, please visit jewishcare.org/donate or call 020 8922 2600.