#Isolatedbutnotalone is the Camp Simcha hashtag on our social media – and never has that felt more true, both from my perspective and for the Jewish community as a whole.
As one of the 1.5 million UK citizens with a health condition categorised by the NHS as making me vulnerable, I received notification this week to stay in for 3 months. It’s not the category anyone wants to be in – but it is nothing compared to what many of our families are dealing with. With children in very vulnerable positions, for them it is a truly terrifying situation.
Steering the Camp Simcha ship from my kitchen table, I have been privileged and humbled over the last two weeks to see our amazing staff team, Family Liaison Officers, therapists and consultants step up, working round the clock, to make sure all our families also feel they are not alone.
Our family liaison officers (FLOs) have always worked 24/7 to be there for our families but the need now is greater than ever. Even remotely they are supporting terrified parents with calls, virtual support groups, sending in crisis meals – demand for which has gone up 70 per cent – art packs and activities, and organising virtual counselling, art sessions and benefits advice among many other things.
Some of our FLOs have been receiving calls from families they supported historically. At a time of crisis when they feel most vulnerable their first thought has been to call Camp Simcha and that makes me proud.
This week Camp Simcha took on three new referrals. Instead of a face-to-face first visit we had a video one, but those parents and children are already getting support put in place.
As a charity for families who have a seriously ill child, our aim is to offer practical and emotional support services and to bring some normality and joy back into family life. Right now, even something as simple as the children sitting down and doing pottery painting at the kitchen table can achieve this for a short period.
On our website, a new parent portal offers a range of activities for parents and children, from magic shows and activities to educational advice and exercise classes.
With all our marathons and sponsored events postponed or cancelled our fundraising team are coming up with imaginative and creative ways for people to keep supporting us while making their isolation time feel like it counts.
For my part I will be asking people to sponsor me to grow by beard for my full 12-week lockdown. I think my wife is a bit disappointed I didn’t opt for the 90-day ‘Abs challenge’ but I might have to leave that one for our volunteer Big Brothers and Sisters.
The past few weeks and the coming months will be an unprecedented challenge for the world, but I am proud to see so the community stepping up immeasurably, looking after each other, making a difference where they can.
Many people may be isolated but they are not alone and they can still make a difference personally – and that gives me cause for hope.
If you or anyone you know needs Camp Simcha’s support call 020 82020 9297 or email email@example.com