JBD gives its clients 'a life of dignity'
Maggie Darling with JBD tenant Russell Reuben at 11 Downing Street
Chancellor’s wife Maggie Darling gave a glowing account of Jewish Blind and Disabled as she hosted a reception for over 100 JBD supporters at 11 Downing Street on Tuesday to celebrate the charity’s 40th anniversary.
In her welcoming remarks, Mrs Darling voiced her admiration for the work JBD does to give clients “a life of dignity”. Speaking afterwards, she pledged to visit a JBD property and hailed the organisation as a model for other small charities. Its values chimed with those of her and her husband.
The charity operates six independent-living properties in north and east London for 320 tenants aged from 20 upwards. The properties are built or adapted to incorporate facilities such as easily accessible power switches, automatic doors, lifts with voice function and wide corridors to assist wheelchair access. Support is available at all times at the press of a button.
Among the reception guests were a group from JBD’s Aztec House in Redbridge, including MS sufferer Allan Depreli. He said the charity had changed his life, explaining: “If I had been living alone in my own house, I would have had to rely on social services completely. Now I live my own life. But if I need the assistance, it is on the other side of the door.”
Fellow tenant Hayley Morton-Joseph said JBD had given her the independence she craved. “The biggest difference is to my family as I am now not their sole worry.” One of the charity’s youngest clients, 25-year-old Joel Duskwick, has cerebral palsy. He is thrilled at the addition of a computer room at Aztec House where he tutors other tenants in basic skills.
Plans are in place to secure another building in Bushey, but the charity needs to maintain its backing from the community, as it receives no government funding. Over £1.2 million was raised in 2008, and the financial forecast for this year is similar.
There is a waiting list for places at JBD properties and chairman John Joseph says that many more could be in need of its services. An important aspect of the high-profile celebration was bringing the charity to the attention “of people living in poor circumstances who don’t even know we exist. It is often those most in need of help who do not come forward”.
Others at Tuesday’s event included members of the fledgling Young JBD committee, which celebrates its first birthday next month. Major upcoming fundraisers include a ladies’ lunch with Esther Rantzen and a reception at the House of Lords next year.