Kisharon bridging funding gap with £1 million meal

Special needs charity's dinner raises half the money it requires to meet its budget beyond statutory support


Learning disability charity Kisharon has raised a record-breaking £1 million-plus from its annual gala dinner, held at the Park Lane Hilton on Sunday. The proceeds represent around half the funding gap between statutory income and the actual cost of Kisharon services. It is also committed to raising £12 million to redevelop its school.

The charity has a £5.6 million budget and it receives £3.5 million from local authority grants and parental contributions, leaving it with £2.1 million to find from the community.

Richard Franklin, its fundraising director, said afterwards that he was “humbled” by the generosity of the Jewish community. “The dinner raised much more than we were expecting.

“In the past few years, the state has looked at opportunities to bring communities more into play in funding charities. They have not met the increasing cost of care.

“The relationship between charities and the state will have its critical tensions from time to time. But I always say it’s better working together.”

He was confident Kisharon would raise the missing £1 million through a summer of fundraising events.

In February, the charity received planning permission for a state-of-the-art 72-place school in Hendon, enabling the school’s capacity to double. The £12 million outlay includes local authority grants.

Speakers at the dinner included Debbie Rosten, 30, who has received support from Kisharon for 17 years. A fundraising video was also debuted, which featured Ms Rosten and many others who reveive Kisharon support.

Ms Rosten, who has Down’s syndrome, told the JC it was thanks to Kisharon’s help that she was able to volunteer at Mathilda Marks-Kennedy Jewish Primary in Edgware, helping pupils aged between four and seven to learn Hebrew.

Opening proceedings, dinner hosts Adam and Emma Castleton told guests how the charity had helped their 13-year-old son Elias, who attends Kisharon Day School.

“As parents of a severely disabled child, Kisharon is to us an absolute lifeline,” Mr Castleton said. “Elias’s progress has surpassed all our expectations.

“This is a person who only learned to walk aged 11 — and this is only because teachers and therapists at Kisharon simply never gave up on him.

“Elias celebrated his barmitzvah at the school last October, surrounded by his family and extended Kisharon family.

“I cannot describe the joy and pride it gave us, and most importantly, the happiness it gave to Elias.”

Other speakers included Bridget Jones and Miranda actress Sally Phillips, whose 15-year-old son Olly has Down’s syndrome, and Karen Gaffney, the first person with the condition to swim an English Channel relay.

Eli Cohen and Chaim Dovid Rotenberg were among Kisharon clients who participated in the evening’s programme.

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