Construction to begin on Jewish Blind & Disabled's £10 million Mill Hill development

The charity's eighth London area project will help to reduce a growing waiting list


Jewish Blind & Disabled is ready to begin construction on a £10 million development in Mill Hill East having secured both planning permission and a lead donor.

Due to open in early 2024, the development will provide 23 one-bedroom mobility apartments and seven two-bedroom mobility apartments, as well as overnight studio accommodation for the house manager and a range of communal facilities.

The apartments are designed to meet the needs of those with physical disabilities or vision impairment and will include accessible fitted kitchens and walk-in shower rooms, spacious enough to accommodate wheelchairs.

There will also be communal laundry facilities, a lounge, a small garden and roof terrace and parking spaces.

Sustainability figures prominently in the plans with a low carbon energy strategy incorporated into the design, including solar panels and green and brown roofs.

The Mill Hill project will add to JBD’s seven existing properties across North-West and North-East London, Essex and Herts, supporting over 360 tenants ranging in age from thirtysomethings to a 105-year-old.

“This development can’t come soon enough,” said its chief executive, Lisa Wimborne.

“Our waiting list in Barnet is growing, in particular for larger or two-bedroom flats suitable for couples.

“We are yet to start work but have already had significant interest in these apartments from people who are currently living in unsuitable accommodation without the support they need.

“We are committed to ensuring we can meet the current and future needs of people in our community living with physical disabilities or vision impairments.”

The development will be known as Ephraim Court, recognising the lead gift from the Ephraim 1998 Charitable Trust and as a memorial to the trust’s founders, brothers Menashi (Morris) and Heskel (Harry) Ephraim. The undisclosed seven figure donation is the largest ever made to JBD.

The Ephraims were Iraqi Jews who came to Britain in the 1950s, building a successful life for themselves. Initially trading in financial markets, they went on to establish an electrical imports company, Hills Components.

They lived together in Northwood and did not marry or have children.

Heskel lost an eye in an accident when he was young and so would have appreciated the work of JBD.

Ephraim trustee Gary Cullum said Menashi Ephraim — who died in 2020, 14 years after his brother — had left “clear instructions to seek legacy opportunities with particular interest in a number of fields, including supporting the Jewish community and people with visual impairments.

“We have been extremely impressed with the work of Jewish Blind & Disabled and are delighted to be supporting this new development, a fitting and lasting legacy for Menashi and Heskel Ephraim.”

With several other significant donations pledged, JBD has launched a fund-raising campaign to meet the £3.5 million shortfall.

JBD chair Marc Gordon said it was the charity’s biggest project to date.

“If we can fully fundraise for this development, it will enable us to find a site in the Hertfordshire area where we know there is current and growing need.”

However, if it couldn’t raise the shortfall on Ephraim Court, “we will have to borrow from the bank and this will significantly slow down our ambitious plans for growth and development”.

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