Several local charities supporting Manchester Jewish children with Special Educational Needs presented a panel session at this year’s Manchester Limmud. The session was titled “Are we doing enough for Manchester Jewish Children with special educational needs”
Malcolm Joels, speaking for Delamere Charitable Trust and also for JSENSE, explained the challenges in providing the vital help these children need in an environment where the government has been cutting back expenditure in real terms on schools and special needs support. In June, a group of parents of special education needs children started an unprecedented suit in the courts against the government because of the cuts. Despite this funding problem, many local Jewish schools and charities are finding innovative ways to provide at least some support cost effectively.
Alayne Levy, Chairperson of Langdon College, a specialist dyslexia teacher and herself a parent of a child with learning disabilities, fascinated the audience by getting them to imagine the difficulties faced in securing the right help in different cases of learning disability. In so many cases, although the support needs is understood, the resources are simply not forthcoming.
Esty Bruck, Programme Director of The Friendship Circle, explained how their busy calendar of events and one to one Buddy Programme is helping to combat loneliness and social exclusion among those with disabilities. They currently have around a hundred volunteers forming friendships with members and learning themselves to see the individual rather than the disability. Esty illustrated her talk with a heart-warming film of The Friendship Circle at work.
Summing up, Mr Joels appealed for help from the local Jewish community for the charities who are trying to fill the gaps and transform the lives of these children and their families. Volunteers can make a real difference by helping to fill the funding gaps.