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Our greatest challenge

03 April 2020

A little over 3 ½ weeks ago, on March 9, Kisharon’s Business Continuity Plan for pandemics was brought into operation.

Kisharon is an essential frontline social care charity relied on by local authorities, the NHS, families, and, most importantly, the people we support with learning disabilities.

Our objective is clear – to take all necessary steps to maintain continuity of service, while taking appropriate precautions to protect people we support, staff, family members, volunteers and supporters.

The response from staff has been utterly astounding: Tuffkid Nursery and Kisharon School are operating online; Kisharon College will operate online after Pesach; social enterprises and employment services have been shut; Adult Day Services have been creating an online support programme; volunteers have been actively supporting us with food and bedding deliveries as well as befriending; Pesach preparations are ongoing and supplies have now been secured for sedorim which will be held across our services.

Remarkably, the building of the new Kisharon School finished last week, and now therapy, IT and furniture fit-outs are the latest challenge facing us to ready the school for the scheduled September opening.

Supported Living services across 14 sites remain open, and logistics have worked around the clock securing 1000s of items of personal protection equipment (PPE) against all the odds  –  with limited government supplies arriving yesterday. PPE and infection control has literally been a life saver for the truly heroic men and women who have not flinched in prioritising the care of others.

Tragically, every effort has still not prevented loss of life during the pandemic, and Kisharon honours two people we have supported (as well as family members of staff and Kisharon supporters) who have passed away from Covid 19, by respecting family privacy at this difficult time.

Our latest forecast shows that, even after furlough, mortgage holidays, PAYE, and rates rebates £970K in unfunded core costs is absolutely essential for Kisharon to maintain a frontline service through to September. Social distancing has meant all fundraising events have been cancelled.

The government has yet to offer support to frontline charities (see The Times March 31 with its leader demanding state intervention) and Kisharon continues to work with the Jewish Leadership Council on a coordinated response for the major philanthropic institutions.  Ultimately, Kisharon is in the hands of  the community we serve, and I would strenuously urge you to support, if and where you can, by donating online, and preferably at the same level as last year.

May your generosity be the ‘strong hand and outstretched arm’ that delivers Kisharon this Pesach –  and may this too be the story told from generation to generation.

Wishing everyone a Kasher Pesach,

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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.