Jewish Care has defended its decision to host Wonga founder Errol Damelin as guest speaker for a fundraising event in the face of concern from some members of the community.
Young Jewish Care’s business committee will host up to 100 people at an “Evening With Wonga” on Wednesday. But the charity has been criticised for giving a platform to a company which made £1 million a week last year from offering short-term loans at high interest rates.
Carl Packman, author of Loan Sharks: The Rise and Rise of Payday Lending, believed that Jewish Care should not have invited Mr Damelin. Wonga’s “business model puts people in debt. It’s a profitable, but not an ethical business,” he said
A Jewish Care fundraiser, Michael Ezra, commented on the event’s Facebook page: “[Wonga] profits from the vulnerable.” He called on the committee to withdraw its invitation.
A Jewish Care spokesperson said the charity had received eight complaints. A spokesperson for the YJC business committee said the event provided “an opportunity for young members of the community to question topical speakers. We are providing a platform to directly ask Wonga’s chief executive about his life and business.”
Funds raised from the event with Mr Damelin, a South African Jew who co-founded Wonga in 2006, will be donated to Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre in north-west London.
This week, Archbishop Justin Welby said the Church of England was preparing a plan to compete with payday loan companies by making church buildings available to credit unions.