Recession hits World Jewish Relief

By Leon Symons, September 3, 2009
A Jewish family in the Ukraine who rely on World Jewish Relief. But support is being squeezed in the downturn

A Jewish family in the Ukraine who rely on World Jewish Relief. But support is being squeezed in the downturn

World Jewish Relief, Anglo-Jewry’s main international relief charity, has been forced to cut some of its budgets in eastern Europe by 15 per cent because of the recession.

While none of its current or future projects have been dramatically affected, the charity has trimmed the amount it contributes to organisations such as the American Joint Distribution Committee, which undertakes day-to-day work in WJR’s three community centres in Poland and the Ukraine.

Chief executive Paul Anticoni said: “We are dealing with a very unpredictable economic environment, so we decided to take a cautious line. We hope we can achieve last year’s income targets and continue to give our partners similar levels of funding to last year. But we simply don’t know how our fundraising and donations will perform.”

Normally, WJR underwrites the money it gives to its partners a year ahead. “We have done that again but we have reduced the funding by 15 per cent because we are unsure how much money will be coming in.”

The figures are reviewed annually at the start of WJR’s financial year in June. This year there will be a review of its position in December, at the half-way stage.

Our clientele needs most help in the winter

“We hope income targets will be met and we will be able to adjust things for the second six-month period to take the contributions back up to last year’s level,” said Mr Anticoni.

The charity has kept costs to a minimum at its three community centres in Krakow, Poland, and in the Ukrainian towns of Zaporozhye and Krivoy Rog, and had actually increased the number of programmes that were being run in the two Ukrainian centres.

Mr Anticoni said: “In Krakow we have a staff of one and a half and a lot of volunteers. But our commitment to the centres will continue.

“There is no doubt that the scale of services we have been supplying has been reduced at a time when people still need help. Our clientele is getting older and needs more intensive services and that costs more, so we are up against it.

“However our supporters have always come up with the goods when called on to do so. Winter is approaching, that is when conditions are at their worst and when we give most help to those who really need it,” he added.

Last updated: 11:43am, September 3 2009