Why Chai deserves your support

By Marcus Dysch, October 8, 2008

Providing a support network for Jewish cancer patients of all ages is a difficult task. Raising more than £1 million to keep that service running is no easier.

Chai Cancer Care provides wide-ranging assistance to anyone affected by a cancer diagnosis. The charity provides patients, their families and friends with advice, counselling and therapy, regardless of synagogue affiliation.

Teams of volunteers offer additional support, visiting clients in their own homes to provide befriending services, do patients' shopping and give lifts to appointments or consultations.

There is no cut-off point for Chai's assistance, and clients often use the charity's services for many years.
Chief executive Elaine Kerr explained that as new client numbers have doubled in each of the last two years, the need for additional income has risen sharply.

"While people are living longer with their cancers we have to increase our funding. We must keep pace with those growing numbers," she said.

Chai must raise around £1.2 million every year, made up entirely of donations. The charity receives no government assistance or grants.

That is one reason why we have chosen Chai as a beneficiary for the 2008 JC Charity Appeal. We ask readers to be generous to this and our other two charities.

"We are a prudent charity," Mrs Kerr said. "We always have at least one year's running costs in the bank because we have to ensure people who need help can get it immediately. The community has been very generous to us."

Employing 12 full-time staff and another 14 temporary therapists and counsellors, Chai is run from head offices in Hendon, North West London.

Its appeal nomination highlighted a desire to set up new partnerships in other centres of Jewish population, but each one can cost around £46,000 to implement. An increase in donations would also allow an extension of Chai's programme run from Jewish Care's premises at Redbridge Community Centre.

Currently Chai staff only visit the Essex centre one day a week.

In July, a collaboration began with Nightingale House in Wandsworth, again offering services once a week.
Ms Kerr said: "We are very excited about the JC appeal, because we hope to grow in line with our client numbers. The more people who know about Chai, the more people come to us.

"We need to be accessible to those who need help, but that in turn puts added pressure on us. We are completely demand-led and have no waiting list."


Last updated: 11:37am, October 8 2008