Jewish Care

Jewish Care

'Breaking cultural taboos'

Perceived notions of shame within a cultural community can make it harder to combat certain health and social problems. ‘The Jewish community likes to think it’s immune from issues such as drug and alcohol addiction,’ explains service manager Sonia Douek. ‘There is a stigma involved if a child has “gone off the rails”. A culturally specific help organisation, such as Jewish Care, breaks down barriers and tells parents they haven’t failed.’

It was Jewish Care’s mental health team that first reported a growing number of drug- and alcohol-related referrals from school counsellors, youth workers and teachers. Recognising that it lacks the skills and expertise to work directly with addicts, Jewish Care initially talked to external agencies both within the addiction field and within carers’ services for advice.

When it launched a dedicated support service in July 2001, Jewish Care received one referral per month. It currently supports 40 carers of people with an addictive disorder and takes on average of four referrals per month. To date it has provided information, advice and support to nearly 90 families. The charity also works closely with local drug and alcohol team, and relies on health professionals who have come forward to help.

For the Jewish community in the UK, the impact of this service has been immense, not only in terms of numbers, but also in breaking taboos. ‘We’ve come across people who’ve had issues for 40 years and not spoken about it before,’ says Douek. ‘They are now finally coming to terms with it.’

Simon Morris
Chief executive
Stuart Young House
221 Golders Green Road 
NW11 9DQ
020 8922 2165
Reg no. 802559


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