Chil­dren ‘de­prived’

Com­mu­nity re­search re­veals 3,000 chil­dren liv­ing be­low the poverty line

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

AROUND 3,000 Jewish chil­dren are liv­ing be­low the poverty line in Bri­tain to­day, ac­cord­ing to new re­search into de­pri­va­tion in the Jewish com­mu­nity.

Four hun­dred chil­dren are pro­vid­ing un­paid care for de­pen­dent adults in their own homes, while four per cent of chil­dren at state-aided Jewish schools are el­i­gi­ble for free school meals.

The fig­ures, ob­tained from anal­y­sis of the 2001 Cen­sus and other sur­veys, have been re­leased to the JC by the Shoresh Trust, which is to con­duct fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Jewish child poverty with the In­sti­tute for Jewish Pol­icy Re­search (JPR).

The need for more data be­came ev­i­dent at a meet­ing chaired by Lord Turn­berg at JPR last sum­mer, which was at­tended by a range of Jewish agen­cies from across the com­mu­nity, from the Agu­das Is­rael Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion to Jewish Women’s Aid. Kather­ine Hall­gar­ten, a trustee of the Shoresh Trust — which was set up by her mother, Ruth Bor­chard — told the JC this week: “What c a me o u t clearly was that poverty is not an is­sue only in the Charedi com­mu­nity.” While Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions were con­fi­dent about deal­ing with prob­lems about the el­derly, they were less so about child poverty, she said.

Rabbi Mark Gold­smith, rabbi of the North West­ern Re­form Syn­a­gogue in Lon­don and also a Shoresh trustee, be­lieves that syn­a­gogues in par­tic­u­lar need to be more aware of the im­pact of fi­nan­cial hard­ship.

“Poverty has a marginal­is­ing ef­fect. It of­ten takes peo­ple out of syn­a­gogue mem­ber­ship or makes it dif­fi­cult for them to par­tic­i­pate in syn­a­gogue ac­tiv­i­ties, such af­ford­ing youth club events,” he said.

Peo­ple may also leave cen­tres of Jewish life to look for cheaper hous­ing, where there are fewer Jews and hence the like­li­hood of fur­ther de­tach­ment from the com­mu­nity.

The re­search will try to de­ter­mine the ex­tent of Jewish child poverty, the num­ber of fam­i­lies be­low the poverty line — na­tion­ally de­fined as 60 per cent of the av­er­age wage — and what their needs are.

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