Welfare pioneer is mourned

By John Fisher, April 1, 2013
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Tributes have been paid to Sheila Saunders — “a gem of the Leeds community” — who died last week aged 67.
Ms Saunders was a long-serving chief executive of Leeds Jewish Welfare Board and Leeds Jewish Housing Association.

Dynamic and direct — “I don’t do subtle” — Ms Saunders was a champion of the vulnerable. She came to Leeds from Manchester in 1983 to run LJWB’s Queenshill day centre for the elderly.

Together with the late George Manning, she set up Moorcare in 1994, a not-for-profit care provider run by LJWB. Her research into domestic violence in Israel led her to found Jewish Women’s Aid in Leeds in 1985.

Rebecca Weinberg, her successor at LJWB, said that “under her leadership LJWB became a provider at the forefront of social care.

“Future generations will benefit from her wonderful legacy.”

LJHA housing services director Craig Simons said Ms Saunders had “turned a small association into one that punched far above its weight”.

In a difficult economic climate, she had secured funding for the construction of 62 flats and a number of four-bedroom family houses.

After retirement in 2010 she returned to Manchester to become lady mayoress for long-time friend Councillor Mark Hackett, a fellow student radical in the 1960s.

    Last updated: 10:45am, April 1 2013