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Gloomy news on the jobs front

19 October 2020

Kisharon’s employment programme has been devastated by Covid, leaving jobless learning disabled employees despondent.

In many cases, jobs were lost as employers struggled for their own livelihood.

For Illana Ellison who is supported by Kisharon, a letter arrived in June to say her job had been axed. “I felt upset and fed up,” she said. Others are lonely and feel isolated, particularly if they live alone, and miss the boost in self-esteem, and cash, accorded to them by regular employment.

As many as 60 jobs have been lost at Kisharon, with some individuals losing several posts. Other organisations facilitating jobs for learning disabled staff have been similarly affected, said Shlomo Weltman, Employment and Opportunities Manager.

“It’s important that people don’t lose their skills, especially those trained to use public transport independently. We don’t want them to worry or feel nervous when they do this again,” he added. “I’m not expecting things to return as they were, but it’s important to keep productive and busy. There will be a safe way to work in the future.”

The shift to remote working has been a key reason for job losses. The simple office jobs at which people with learning disabilities excel no longer exist. And with many employers moving to smaller officers to accommodate staff preferences for home working, these jobs seem likely to vanish forever.

Many Kisharon jobs were in hotels which have suffered badly. Shlomo said: “With only 10-15 per cent occupancy, hotels are cutting down on regular staff. With the workload reduced, our people are not essential and lot of opportunities for us have been lost.”

Jobs in shops have gone too. With social distancing restricting people numbers, an extra employee means one less customer.

“In many cases, our people were not critical to the business but there because the employer wanted to support learning disability. Employers are prioritising their own businesses before going the extra mile for charity,” he added.

On a positive note, at least ten jobs have been retained, with one employer especially requesting that his learning disabled employee returned to work after lockdown.

Shlomo said: “People we support don’t always keep to the rules of social distancing or mask wearing. One employee is taking a taxi to work to avoid using public transport. Other ongoing jobs are in small local businesses without customers so exposure to risk is low and they are accompanied on their journeys by our staff to keep safe.”

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Pirkei Avos
“The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness.” Kisharon looks at the person not the disability, teaching Torah, Middos and Mitzvot embracing and cherishing everybody’s special talent and bringing out the best in them.