I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in the middle of the pandemic

14 Apr 2021

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s six months ago in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. I'd been working for 24 years as a chef. I began helping at a friend's restaurant when staff didn't turn up and found I loved it. I worked at Zoom in Marylebone, the Paradise in Kensal Rise, in Portobello Road, in Ibiza and at a rehabilatation clinic until my Parkinson's meant I couldn't carry on. Whilst, I was struggling with the diagnosis, my brother died in South Africa. Alone in London I watched the funeral and prayers on Zoom, with my sister in Baltimore, niece and nephews in Chicago in Cape Town.

 I literally didn’t know where to turn and it gave me a huge realisation of how I had lost my Jewish roots and sense of community. It made me feel so alone. My friend gave me the number and said I think you should call Jewish Care Direct Helpline number. It took seeing what my sister had and what I didn’t have, to reach out to Jewish Care and I’m so grateful that I’ve done that.

One of the Helpline advisors, Ruth, listened to my story and referred me to Jewish Care’s Social Work and Community Support Team. Within such a short time I was put in touch with so many wonderful people and from there I was just given all the help I could have possibly wanted.

My Jewish Care social worker helped me with my problems and introduced me to Jewish Care’s Parkinson’s Wellbeing Support group which I now attend regularly through video conferencing. Helen Meyer, the Community Support worker who runs the group is marvelous and keeps in touch. The team also put me in touch with Parkinson UK  and I'm now part of the local Parkinson's support group in Kensington & Chelsea and Parkinson Care & Support.

Ruth from the Helpline also connected me with people in my area who cooked for me when I wasn't able to and are now good friends and also with Brondesbury Synagogue. It is so nice to be in touch with the Jewish community again. I started on the Friday night zoom and I was included in the Purim festival celebrations. It’s absolutely the most fantastic thing and I feel so much more connected me to the community, my family and my roots.

My physical, mental and spiritual health really improved, I’m now running my own vegan cooking group and I am on Zooms to help with my physical and mental well-being.

Without Jewish Care I wouldn’t have connected back with my Jewish community and people who understand my illness. I’ve been able to meet a whole community of wonderful friends. The kindness has been unbelievable. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through and Jewish Care has made it easier for me. Talking to others who know what I’m going through and are in the same situation at such a difficult time, is a huge relief to me.

I’m very lucky to be given the support that I’ve had through everybody that I’ve mentioned. If there’s anybody out there, there is so much positivity and determination out there and I can recommend and the support of wonderful people from Jewish Care, Jewish Care Direct Helpline and their Parkinson’s Wellbeing Support Group. I've started running a cooking Zoom with a friend called Vegans on Vogue and I'm donating proceeds to the charities who've supported me.  

Since the pandemic, Jewish Care Direct Helpline has received over 40% more calls and is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from fundraising.

Jewish Care’s Social Work and Community Support Team support over 1200 clients each week and is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from fundraising.

Jewish Care’s Parkinson’s Wellbeing group is also supported entirely by charitable contributions.

 Jewish Care’s Parkinson’s Wellbeing Group meet monthly and are there to support people in the Jewish community living day to day with Parkinson’s and their carers and helps them to connect with others so they can share information and advice through speakers as well as sharing experiences and benefiting from peer support. To attend or for more information, please email ylevy@jcare.org or hmeyer@jcare.org