Praise– and warn­ings – for the Prime Min­is­ter

Men­tal health and se­cu­rity were on the agenda when a JLC-led del­e­ga­tion met Theresa May this week

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEE HARPIN PO­LIT­I­CAL EDI­TOR

THERESA MAY has been in­formed of the work be­ing car­ried out by Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions to tackle lone­li­ness and other men­tal health is­sues.

The Prime Min­is­ter met the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil and other com­mu­nal groups at Down­ing Street for round-ta­ble dis­cus­sions on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

While is­sues such as an­tisemitism and the £50 mil­lion Holo­caust Me­mo­rial project in West­min­ster re­mained high on the agenda, JLC chair Jonathan Gold­stein stressed “the wide range of projects our com­mu­nity is work­ing on, il­lus­trat­ing how faith-based char­i­ties work hard to adapt to the chal­lenge of de­liv­er­ing a ‘shared so­ci­ety’ agenda.”

Ex­press­ing sup­port for the govern­ment’s lone­li­ness strat­egy, Mr Gold­stein in­tro­duced Sarah An­ti­coni, chair of Part­ner­ship for Jewish Schools, who out­lined how the JLC had formed a task­force fo­cussed on chil­dren’s men­tal health and well­be­ing.

Mrs May was told men­tal health prac­ti­tion­ers are to be placed in five pilot schools within next aca­demic year.

If the pro­gramme is suc­cess­ful it will run in a num­ber of other schools — with dis­cus­sions al­ready hap­pen­ing in Bar­net about rolling it out.

But in a warn­ing to the Prime Min­is­ter, Han­nah Rose, Pres­i­dent of the Union of Jewish Stu­dents, spoke of a “cri­sis” in the pro­vi­sion of men­tal health fa­cil­i­ties for stu­dents.

Ms Rose told the PM that: “Jewish stu­dents face spe­cific chal­lenges in this field, and we would like to see greater train­ing of ser­vice providers in cul­tural di­ver­sity.”

Louise Hager, of Chai Can­cer Care, out­lined her char­ity’s work on break­ing the taboo of liv­ing with can­cer.

Prais­ing the govern­ment’s “stead­fast com­mit­ment” to op­pos­ing all forms of an­tisemitism and for sup­port­ing the Holo­caust Me­mo­rial project, JLC chair Mr Gold­stein al­lowed Ger­ald Ron­son, chair of the Com­mu­nity Se­cu­rity Trust, to give his as­sess­ment of the chal­lenges fac­ing his or­gan­i­sa­tion and the com­mu­nity in the ar­eas of se­cu­rity, hate crime and ex­trem­ism.

Mr Ron­son said we were now liv­ing in “un­prece­dented times” but stressed “get­ting hys­ter­i­cal” would help no one.

He spoke of the need for the “in­tel­lec­tual” as well as “phys­i­cal bat­tle” to be won against ex­trem­ism.

Mr Ron­son also praised the govern­ment for con­tin­ued se­cu­rity guard fund­ing at Jewish schools and other Jewish lo­ca­tions.

But he stressed that the num­ber of schools draw­ing from the grant is in­creas­ing ev­ery year and the con­fir­ma­tion of fund­ing comes late in the day, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for CST.

He asked the Prime Min­is­ter if the “grant could be brought for­ward or made into a multi-year com­mit­ment”, which would make mat­ters eas­ier.

Pres­i­dent of the Board of Deputies Marie van der Zyl also asked the govern­ment to “care­fully cal­i­brate its en­gage­ment [with] those of Hun­gary’s Vik­tor Or­ban or Malaysia’s Ma­hathir Mo­hamed, who trade in anti-Jewish tropes”.

Mrs van der Zyl also ex­pressed con­cern that the po­lit­i­cal wing of Ha­mas, the Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine and the al-Aqsa Mar­tyrs’ Bri­gade are pro­scribed by the EU as ter­ror groups but not by the UK govern­ment.

This means that af­ter Brexit their ac­tiv­i­ties will be­come le­gal in the UK.

Af­ter the meet­ing, Mrs May said: “I was pleased to meet with the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil to dis­cuss the chal­lenges their com­mu­ni­ties face, par­tic­u­larly as we re­act to the shock­ing at­tack in Pitts­burgh.

“To­day’s meet­ing was an op­por­tu­nity to pay trib­ute to the tremen­dous con­tri­bu­tion British Jews make to this coun­try… and to reaf­firm my com­mit­ment to stamp­ing out an­tisemitism in this coun­try.”

Also speak­ing at Thurs­day’s meet­ing — which was at­tended by the JLC’s Di­rec­tor of Pol­icy and Pub­lic Af­fairs Clau­dia Men­doza — was Mark Mor­ris of the Work Av­enue char­ity.

Mr Mor­ris, rep­re­sent­ing the Charedi com­mu­nity, spoke of on­go­ing dis­cus­sions with Of­sted and the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion over school is­sues.

The JLC and other com­mu­nal groups meet­ing the PM last week

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