Norwood appeals with story of how it came to the aid of one of its own staff

The charity's Rosh Hashanah fundraising plea tells of how Jacqueline Nortman reached 'breaking point' during lockdown


Norwood’s Rosh Hashanah appeal is particularly close to home this year, detailing how the charity has supported one of its own staff who reached breaking point during lockdown.

Jacqueline Nortman, Norwood’s marketing manager, reflects that her experience as a service user has given her “a new perspective on, and respect for, everything that they do”.

She told the JC that her 10-year-old daughter Ellie suffers from anxiety and is currently undergoing testing for a range of special educational needs. During lockdown, she withdrew to her darkened bedroom, refusing to get dressed. She was also coming into conflict with her younger brother Sam.

Ms Nortman, 37, was continuing in her full-time role at Norwood and husband Gary was considered a key worker as his business supplies vehicles to blue light services. With him home only one day a week, she felt the pressure mounting.

In May, she hit “rock bottom — I couldn’t go on anymore”. She contacted Catherine McLaughlin, Norwood’s assistant director of children’s services.

“She was incredible,” Ms Nortman said. “She just listened. She made me feel sane; she made me understand that what I’m feeling is really normal.”

Ms McLaughlin put her in contact with an occupational therapist to help her better understand Ellie’s emotions. Ms Nortman also benefited from Norwood’s lockdown hotline.

Three months on, her children are still bickering. “But now [Ellie] is out of her room. She’s dressed every day and is able to articulate more about what’s bothering her.

“She’s just happier in herself and the knock on is I’m happier because I don’t feel like I’m failing her anymore. I feel I understand her more than I did — and that makes a huge difference.”

In her Norwood role, the Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue congregant felt “really privileged” to talk to service users. “I always hear these incredible stories and how some people go as far as saying [Norwood’s support had] saved their life. And I’ve always thought: ‘Wow, that must be such a relief.’ It’s only now that I’m on the receiving end of it that I really get what they mean.”

Norwood chief executive Dr Beverley Jacobson said the appeal was “more crucial than ever” after coronavirus had brought rising costs and fundraising had been “decimated”. The charity needs to raise an additional £3 million this year.

“We know times are difficult for ever-yone,” she added. “But we are really hoping that the emotional stories in this year’s appeal will show our supporters how much they can impact other people’s lives and will move them to be as generous as possible.”

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