The Schmooze: Manchester is facing up to the tough questions

The city's Jewish Representative Council and councils must work together to find a way through what is going to be an increasingly challenging landscape

February 23, 2023 16:26

It is now nine months since I appointed my first management board of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region.

One of the central pivots of my agenda was finding a way for our diverse community to move forward in a cohesive fashion.

Without a centralised convening force, it is always too easy for organisations to operate in a silo.

We are undoubtedly blessed with individuals and organisations undertaking remarkable work.

Since assuming the role as chair of the JRC, I have regularly visited charities to understand their modus operandi.

When speaking, I always inquire about their relationships with others who function in a similar space.

The world changed in March 2020. As Covid swept the globe, our Manchester community sprang into action and convened a response group.

For the first time, key communal stakeholders came together with the objectives of communicating messages and caring for vulnerable people.

As the group grew, so did relationships that have developed into trusted partnerships. Alongside JRC chief executive Marc Levy, we have delivered tangible results that have benefitted many institutions.

It is pleasing that as we emerge from the pandemic, almost three years on, the Jewish Strategic Group that I chair has continued to gain membership and influence.

We are now dealing with other huge issues. The cost-of-living crisis affects Jewish people as it does everyone in wider society.

We are fortunate to have charities that are geared up to help those in urgent need.

The recent history of the JRC has formed the background to an enterprising and truly ground-breaking exercise.

I have never shied away from difficult conversations. Throughout my business and communal life, I have been driven by working towards strategic objectives and consensus management wherever possible.

Communally wise, being the instigator of the merger between welfare charities Heathlands Village and The Fed is the obvious example. This was an extremely complex process that has ultimately delivered excellent and sustainable results.

It was with this in mind that we commissioned a report into the Greater Manchester Jewish community. It was recommended that we utilise the team at Mobilise, who are independent and experts in this field.

I am so pleased this project has been progressed in conjunction with the local authorities of Bury, Manchester, Salford and Trafford. They have completely bought into why this work is invaluable and how it can assist their conversations with our community.

The instructions to Mobilise were clear. They were to look at our communal infrastructure on the critical issues of children and young people, adult services, health, older people, employment support, welfare, housing and emergency response.

They were tasked with highlighting areas of duplication and where existing providers should collaborate. What the report has established is that there are many charities operating in partnerships and across the whole community in an effective and efficient manner.

This is now more important than ever. Charities across the board are understandably concerned by falling income and rising costs.

It is, therefore, more important than ever that we find a way to work together through what is going to be an increasingly challenging landscape.

The report has delivered a series of recommendations, some of which challenge the status quo.

We will ensure that this report is used as a blueprint to encourage discussion and collaboration between all the differing parties. Again, it may lead to challenging conversations but this is always necessary to bring about change.

It is a testament to our current standing that we commissioned this report. Previous dividing lines have been eliminated and we are working closer together than ever before to benefit all Jewish people across Greater Manchester.

Mark Adlestone chairs the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester

February 23, 2023 16:26

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