Revealed: The devastating impact of pandemic on UK Jews' health and wealth

Work Avenue survey of employees and business bosses finds half are both worse off financially and suffering mental health issues


More than half of Jewish workers and business bosses in Britain have experienced mental health issues during the pandemic and a similar number say the Covid crisis has left them financially worse off.

Three-quarters of the 500 respondents to the “impact survey” conducted by support organisation Work Avenue said their employment or business situation had been adversely affected. Almost 40 per cent had either retrained or were considering it.

Respondents covered the age spectrum from 18 to 66-plus, with the biggest response (28 per cent) from those between 46 and 55. Overall, 52 per cent reported work-related mental health issues.

Fifty per cent said they were in a worse financial position, although ten per cent reported they were better off than at the start of the pandemic. The remaining 40 per cent said that their economic circumstances were about the same.

“These statistics are shocking but not that surprising,” said Work Avenue CEO Debbie Sheldon. “We have had people approaching us who have lost their sources of income overnight, are ashamed to admit this to family members and have no idea how they will be able to pay the mounting bills. Our ‘mental health first aid’ advisers have been working tirelessly with our clients to identify areas for optimism, transferable skills and innovative ways they can re-enter the workforce.

“We have been busier than ever helping people find new jobs, retrain for new careers and set up or restructure their businesses. While these figures can make for grim reading, it’s important for everyone to know that help is out there.”

Asked “which of the following applies to you”, 15 per cent of employees said they had been made redundant, with a further six per cent reporting a job loss through other circumstances.

Seven per cent of workers had experienced a reduction in hours; six per cent had taken pay cuts.

A fifth of business bosses said their companies had lost clients and contracts and a similar proportion reported reduced income. Three per cent said their business had closed; another three per cent said they had been forced to lay off staff.

In total, half of those surveyed said they had received no government support during the pandemic. Twenty per cent had been on the furlough scheme, with other sources of assistance including universal credit and the self-employed income support scheme (both eight per cent).

Seven per cent of respondents had retrained and a further 32 per cent were considering doing so.

A more positive note was sounded when people were asked about their feelings for the year ahead in their job or business. More were optimistic (36 per cent) than pessimistic (28 per cent).The other 36 per cent were “neutral”.

Commenting on the findings, Laurie Rackind, CEO of communal mental health charity Jami, said: “This pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live and, for many of us, has had a detrimental effect on our mental health and wellbeing.

“Health and economic pressures combined with uncertainty and social restrictions have ensured that the mental health impact of Covid will be felt long after the physical threat disappears.

“Raising awareness and promoting conversations around mental health is a vital step to ensuring those who need support will get it.”


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