Mark Gardner

Time to shout about our community security

The CST has always worked quietly in the background, but now we are asking for your help

March 01, 2021 15:01

I want to tell you about the Community Security Trust (CST)’s crowdfunding campaign, Together We Protect. It takes place after Shabbat, on Sunday and Monday. Using the wonders of WhatsApp, email, Facebook and good old fashioned phone calls, hundreds of CST donors, volunteers and communal partners will reach out to their family, friends and members, spreading the word.

Usually, CST offers three ways for supporting our mission. We ask that you please join us as a security volunteer, that you report antisemitism and that you consider giving a donation. We have only ever run specific adverts on the first two requests, that you join, or report. We have never asked the entire community to donate. Until now, that is.

Donations will be match-funded, effectively meaning they will be doubled. These can come through the website, by phone or by post.

Together We Protect will feature numerous short videos explaining different aspects of our work. The range of these may well surprise you, because CST does a lot more than the security guarding for which most people know us.

This is highly unusual for CST. We have a well-deserved reputation for keeping things quiet, preferring to protect our community, not chase headlines. It can sometimes be frustrating to know that we are responsible for the latest terrorism conviction, or public revelation about antisemitism, but simply cannot say so, because in the long term it is our private reputation with police, government, media and others that gets things done. That also applies with our advice for legal and policy developments. 

Similarly, there is the colossal effort of our security volunteers and staff, giving countless hours of dedicated service across our communities. We’ve been approached many times by TV companies wanting to do documentaries about CST, but we always politely decline. Being the story distracts us from protecting our community. Our volunteers sign up to fight terrorism, not to get on the telly.

Together We Protect still guards our operational integrity, but it is a big change from our usual way of doing things. So, why the shift?

Just over a year ago, CST was the first major Jewish charity to cancel its forthcoming annual fundraising dinner. We took that decision a good while before lockdown and received a few angry emails from donors thinking we were mad. Twelve months on, nobody is even asking about the next annual dinner, because it is obviously cancelled. Nevertheless, antisemitism didn’t magically stop because of coronavirus and CST faces a second year with reduced income, which we simply cannot afford.

CST has over 2,000 fully trained security volunteers, working throughout the UK. There are 90 full and part-time staff with offices in London, Manchester and Leeds, including a 24/7 security control centre with direct CCTV and radio feeds to many hundreds of communal buildings. Normally, expenditure exceeds £6 million. Our unique network also enables us to manage £14 million of government grant money to fund non-CST security guards at schools, shuls and elsewhere. Over the last year, we have cut every possible expense without impacting the front-line security and antisemitism response that our community needs, deserves and expects.

Now is not the time to cut our strength. Lockdown has led to a lot of pent-up frustration and anger, which will only worsen as Covid’s true economic impact hits home. There will be more antisemitism when restrictions lift, as proven by last June and July’s very high incident levels. 

Together We Protect is an economic and operational necessity for CST, but it is also a virtue. I see this as an exciting opportunity, because it focuses upon what we do and what we are, both CST and the community. If you lead any kind of Jewish life, CST has almost certainly provided security advice, equipment and guards to your child’s school, to your shul, to the communal event that you attended. If you unfortunately experience antisemitism, CST will be there for you. Our behind-the-scenes research and outreach provides further protection, but you will seldom see it.   

CST’s work protects each and every British Jew and now we are asking you for your support. Please visit and play your part.

Mark Gardner is the Chief Executive Officer of the Community Security Trust (CST)

March 01, 2021 15:01

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