OPINION: All abilities can thrive – with the right support for social care charities

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OPINION: All abilities can thrive – with the right support for social care charities

"When people we support are present in and contributing to their local communities, we can build relationships and positive understanding," says Kisharon's Hadassa Kessler

Hadassa is co-chair of the Faith and Spirituality Network for the National Care Forum, and Director of Operations for Kisharon
Hadassa is co-chair of the Faith and Spirituality Network for the National Care Forum, and Director of Operations for Kisharon

The state of care and support in the UK has been a topic of concern for many years, and the Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care report, published in January, has brought to light the need for significant changes in the sector.

The report, which offers a brave, faith-based alternative approach, emphasises the lack of funding, fragmented services, and inadequate training for care and support workers. These issues have a severe impact on people with disabilities and their families, who often struggle to get the support they need to lead fulfilling lives.

I attended a consultation on the findings of the report shortly before it was published, and what struck me was this – the Jewish community has been ahead of the game when it comes to providing care and support.

Our emphasis on community, reciprocity, and our deep understanding of the value and rights of each individual created b’tzelem elokim, in God’s image, means that we are already welcoming people with care and support needs into our shuls, simchas, and homes.

The positive reception to the inclusive Siddur Lakol, collaboratively created by Kisharon together with Jweb, the United Synagogue, and Gesher School, demonstrates this commitment to inclusion.

As co-chair of the newly established Faith and Spirituality Network for the National Care Forum, I have heard first-hand how commissioners and funding bodies lack understanding of the fundamentality of faith and spirituality for the people we are collectively supporting.

It is up to us, as faith-based providers, to bridge the gap and emphasise the importance of a holistic approach.

At Kisharon, we understand that people with disabilities need more than just safe and efficient care and support. Our emphasis on Jewish values of Integrity (Emet), Respect (Derech Eretz), Kindness (Chesed), and Community (Kehilla) has led us to invest significant additional resources such as our Head of Jewish Life, our Community Inclusion manager, our electronic support plans, recruitment of Jewish students as assistant support workers through our Year 12 Project, our Rabbis, our teachers and more.

The follow on effect of all of the above is the influence we, and others are having on perceptions of people with learning disabilities and autistic people.

I’ve written previously about the impact of language, and why changing the way we talk about people with disabilities has such an impact. Disability advocate Emily Ladau writes eloquently and passionately, from her own experience, about ‘4 Disability Euphemisms That Need to Bite the Dust’.

But it goes further than that – when people we support are present and contributing in their local communities, whether at shul, at work or at the shops, we are together able to build relationships and positive understanding.

At Kisharon, we strongly believe in the potential and abilities of all individuals. Our approach centres on creating a positive and supportive environment that allows people with learning disabilities to thrive and showcase their unique talents.

Kisharon aims to inspire society to embrace diversity, recognising that everyone has something unique and valuable to contribute.

Our aim is to provide support so that people with learning disabilities have every opportunity to succeed, thrive and enjoy a good life, leading the way in innovative and ambitious support.

However, to continue to do this, we need support. The state of social care for adults with learning disabilities in the UK is facing significant challenges, including funding gaps and staff shortages.

The cost of living crisis, together with rising inflation, means that we need your help in order to continue to provide our crucial services.

As a community, we must come together to support organisations like Kisharon, who are doing vital work in providing care and support for individuals with learning disabilities. By investing in these organisations, we can help to ensure that people with disabilities and autistic people receive the care and support they need.

Together, we can promote inclusivity and celebrate diversity, leading the way to a society that recognises and celebrates the potential of all individuals.

  • Hadassa is co-chair of the Faith and Spirituality Network for the National Care Forum, and Director of Operations for Kisharon
  • Support Kisharon here 
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