Rachel Riley joins supporters and celebs in aid of mental health charity Jami

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Rachel Riley joins supporters and celebs in aid of mental health charity Jami

Video messages at fundraiser included household names included Dame Maureen Lipman, Stephen Fry, Vanessa Feltz, Claire Balding and Howard Jacobson

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Rachel Riley during the Youtopia event for Jami
Rachel Riley during the Youtopia event for Jami

Hundreds of people from around the world tuned in to a unique fundraising event held by Jami, the community’s mental health charity.

Hosted by the Countdown presenter and community activist Rachel Riley, the hour-long web event featured cameo messages from a variety of household names — including Dame Maureen Lipman, Stephen Fry, Vanessa Feltz, Claire Balding and Howard Jacobson.

But the main focus was on Jami’s work and its recipients. The pandemic has had enormous mental health impact as well as physical problems, and Jami’s workload has skyrocketed as the numbers of people who have suffered from depression due to isolation have risen to unheard of proportions.

As Laurie Rackind, the charity’s chief executive, told viewers, it has cost Jami £600,000 more than usual to provide services, “The past 10 months have been the most challenging of my career,” he said, noting that “the mental health impact of the virus is likely to be far more long-lasting than the virus itself”.

Jami has had to adapt and change, closing its four London hubs and its Headroom Cafe in Golders Green; instead it has taken on more staff, and is delivering hot meals directly to clients who might have dropped in for lunch at one of the hubs. New cases have risen by 110 per cent, and 25 per cent more staff have been recruited to provide on-line or phone mentoring, occupational therapy and guidance.

Youtopia young Jami

Some of those who have benefited from Jami’s work agreed to take part in emotionally powerful short films to talk about how the charity has helped them. Alex, who has Asperger’s syndrome, and his mother Caroline, spoke of the help they had received. Caroline said: “Jami will turn your life around completely”.

Jonny Benjamin, who received an MBE for his mental health campaigning, was famously talked down from jumping off a bridge by a complete stranger. He was filmed in conversation with Susan Garcia, whose 51-year-old son Simon tragically committed suicide last year. They spoke of the “ripple effect” of suicide on bereaved families, and the importance of Jami’s separate support groups for mothers and fathers of people suffering from mental health issues.

Adam Dawson, the Jami chairman, concluded the event but reminded viewers of the scale of the challenge facing the community. “Ensuring people don’t feel alone makes a huge difference”, he said. Jami has focused on the sufferers themselves, but also on their families, giving them the opportunity to learn how to help.


Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: