Parents with a sick child can now seek assistance from a Jewish charity in accessing the benefits they are entitled to.
Camp Simcha — supporting children with serious illness and their families — now has a benefits adviser, Anne Shine. Another addition to its operations is a tutoring service for children facing interrupted schooling because of their illness.
Camp Simcha chief executive Neville Goldschneider said the services had been introduced in response to the needs of its clients. “We listen to what they tell us and continuously try to adapt our services to their needs. In this way we hope we can improve the quality of life for our families and ease some of the worries associated with having an ill child.”
When a child required round-the-clock care, one or both parents might have to give up work, plunging the family into financial difficulty. “Benefits are continually becoming more complicated and some parents just give up, rather than face the mountain of bureaucracy,” Mr Goldschneider pointed out.
As for the schooling support, Camp Simcha was “thrilled to have been offered the services of an experienced primary school teacher [Fiona Seitler] who is able to tutor the children in liaison with their class teacher.
“This will not only help the child to keep up, but will also give the child a sense that they remain part of the ‘normal world’ where learning and, yes, even homework are part of regular life.”
Ms Shine has many years of experience in the benefits sphere, having worked for Jewish residential homes and as a consultant for charities.
She said that “people often get pushed from pillar to post trying to find out which department is responsible for what and where they can access specific support — such as help with home adaptations or getting specialist medical equipment and respite care.
“I can explain the criteria for accessing these benefits.
“If they want me to, I can fill out the forms and advocate for them with the different authorities.”
Ms Seitler, who has taught at a number of Jewish schools, said of her Camp Simcha role: “Sometimes I will be tutoring children at home, sometimes at hospital.
“Ideally I will liaise with their teachers so I can help the children cover topics they are missing and keep up with their 3Rs.
“As children get older, they can lose confidence if they miss large periods of school, especially because they don’t want to be singled out as different.
“If I can make sure they are not missing anything because we are covering it at home, we can also take some of the pressure off their parents.”