Emergency Community Fund

10th July 2020

Work Avenue and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) have distributed £418,721 to help 235 households in the Jewish community who have suffered financially as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The two organisations joined forces in April to launch the Emergency Community Fund. It closed on Tuesday June 30 having supported families in 72 different UK postcodes.

Grants ranged from £360 to £2,500 with the average amount made £1,782. Recipients included taxi drivers, actors, entrepreneurs, barbers, optometrists, airline pilots, therapists, property agents, personal trainers, dentists and many working in the hospitality and events industries. All fell through the cracks in Government support schemes meaning they did not have enough money for food and bills.

Those helped described the assistance they received from Work Avenue – both in applying for the fund and then looking for new work and opportunities – as “lifesaving”, “allowing me to breathe again” and “making all the difference in getting our family through this”. Many told how they felt “overwhelmed” and were “in tears” when their grants arrived.

Recipient Emma summed up the experience of many, saying: “This was an exceptionally scary time, but Work Avenue showed generosity, kindness and compassion I will never forget. The fund has given me and my children the opportunity to keep our precious world safe and financially stable during this most horrible of times. It has truly been a blessing.”

Ages of applicants to the fund ranged from 20 to 74 with almost three quarters of those helped under the age of 50. In total the grants will support 449 children and 397 adults across the 235 households. Most of those applying were self-employed (45%) followed by those previously in employment (27%) and company directors (22%).

Work Avenue is the Jewish community’s leading employment and business support organisation and is now assisting many of the applicants as they look to the future.

Work Avenue CEO Debbie Sheldon said: “The situations people found themselves in through no fault of their own were heart-breaking and it was an honour to be able to help them through the Emergency Community Fund and the generosity of our donors.

“Clients are now able to make use of this time by arranging free one-to-one appointments with our advisers to help them on their employment or business journey, enrolling on our virtual courses and/or looking at ways to pivot their business and skillsets.”

David Davidi-Brown, the JLC’s Director of Development and Strategy, added: “It has been a privilege for the JLC to be part of helping so many households facing abrupt financial difficulties during the pandemic.

“This has proved how our Jewish community continues to cooperate and coordinate so well, in this case ensuring people in over 70 postcodes from London to Leeds and Eastbourne to Edinburgh accessed such vital assistance.”