Many of the 1,000-plus guests at Jewish Care’s annual dinner on Monday were enthusiastic fans of the performance by Gary Barlow which closed proceedings. But what was truly music to the ears of the charity’s leadership was a record fundraising total just shy of £4 million to help meet mounting demand for its services.
In his address to diners at Grosvenor House in central London, Jewish Care chairman Steven Lewis stressed that “much of what we do does not attract any support from local or national government.
“Local authority support for those in our homes who are unable to pay for their own care has not increased for two years now and has always been below the real cost, meaning we have to find £1 million each year just to fund this shortfall.”
Although every effort was made to ensure that those who could pay did, “we must never forget that over 70 per cent of our residents are unable to pay for the care that they receive”.
A first full year of operations at the charity’s £44 million Maurice and Vivienne Wohl campus in Golders Green had been “enormously successful” with waiting lists for both the Otto Schiff care home and the Selig Court independent living apartments. The campus also houses the Michael Sobell Community Centre, which has seen a 300 per cent increase in users.
Jewish Care’s intended merger with mental health charity Jami showed “how the community can work together, both for the benefit of service users and to ensure we can be as efficient and effective as possible. “Such co-operation is in line with our perspective on the community’s needs and we genuinely hope this is just the beginning of further partnership opportunities.”
Mr Lewis pointed out that the charity needed to raise £15 million from the community this year to maintain services — and legacy income had fallen. Yet with the proportion of frail and elderly within British Jewry exceeding the national average and the rising number “of those we care for who live with dementia, we have to ensure that all of our resources are able to cater for this ever-changing need”.
Dinner chair Nicola Loftus said that “growing old, having mental health needs or physical disabilities are not issues that any of us here like to think about. But we at Jewish Care cannot ignore them. With a rapidly ageing population, we know that the demands on our services will only grow. Indeed virtually all of us or a member of our family will at some point need Jewish Care.”
Lord Levy, the charity’s president, described it as the NHS of the community — “but hopefully a lot better”.
Guest speaker Sir David Frost regaled the audience with tales of journalistic gaffes. He said afterwards that he had been aware through friends of the work of organisations such as Jewish Care and Norwood. Their “commitment and action” was a prime example of “Jewish leadership in the community”.
He also confided that of all the Israeli leaders he had interviewed, Moshe Dayan had made the greatest impression on him.
After the final total was calculated, Mr Lewis praised the response of supporters. “To have raised £3.9 million is an amazing achievement but we still have a long way to go.”