Council study to assess needs of Charedim


In its first major recognition of north Manchester's Charedi population, Bury Council has appointed an officer to compile a study of the expanding community.

Notices put up in Prestwich synagogues this week urge Charedi families to participate in the study. The initiative results from a meeting a fortnight ago between the council's chief executive office and representatives from the Charedi Interlink charity and a strictly Orthodox community group.

It paves the way for culturally sensitive health, housing and childcare services similar to those run by the councils in Salford and Hackney. Research has shown that the Prestwich community's use of public services does not reflect their growing numbers or needs.

Interlink's Manchester director Nava Kestenbaum says a zero uptake by Charedim of social housing - the borough average is 25 per cent - highlights "glaringly obvious inequalities.

"Last month, we also compared the number of Jewish children in Bury to borough-wide statistics and it seems to suggest that five per cent of Bury's children are Charedi. A statistic like that makes them sit up and listen."

The study will help the council assess Charedi uptake of services such as the Sure Start centre in Prestwich, which Mrs Kestenbaum says is "touching only a fraction of the community". Health services, care for the elderly and adult learning provisions are areas likely to be covered by the study.

The growth in Charedi numbers is demonstrated by four new strictly-Orthodox synagogues in Prestwich, which have around 250 member families between them. It can be attributed partly to an overspill from the more expensive neighbouring Broughton Park area, which boasts the UK's highest growth of strictly Orthodox synagogue membership. Another factor is families returning from Israel for economic reasons.

Avi Stern, lettings manager for Amco Management in Prestwich said he had been contacted by a number of people coming back from Israel this summer. "We've got 12 people on a waiting list for properties that become available."

Sam Wells from Embee Estates reports a "huge" waiting list for Prestwich families looking to move back from Israel, but "there there doesn't seem to be enough houses".

A Bury Council spokesman stressed its "commitment to understand more about the nature of the Orthodox Jewish community. We are examining ways we can work together".

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