A charity which supports those wanting to leave the Charedi community has launched a north of England branch to meet demand from the region.
Mavar said it was already dealing with four cases in the north, having helped 70 people in London since the organisation was founded in 2013.
Linda Turner, Mavar’s director, said the move to assist those in Gateshead and Manchester was prompted by the difficulties in dealing with northern inquiries from its London base.
“We would often get calls from people in the north needing help and support and it is really difficult if we are not on the ground.
“Luckily, we have been able to establish a team in the north which can deal with the demand.”
She added that Mavar’s role was not to encourage Charedim to leave the strictly Orthodox community, or to “proselytise”. It was to “make sure people can make personal choices by having someone they can turn to”.
It could assist on a range of issues —for example, offering access to lawyers, therapists or local authority support services.
“Mavar provides confidential guidance and support to individuals who have grown up in the ultra-Orthodox community and are now seeking to navigate the wider world,” Ms Turner explained.
“Ultimately, we want to enable members to live a self-determined life and make informed choices, whether they are simply trying to pursue other educational or professional opportunities, or wish to leave the Charedi community altogether.”
Mavar North will be Manchester based and led by Sally Halon, who has recruited a team of volunteer mentors.
“The volunteers have a wide variety of disciplines and are sensitive to the issues and challenges that some Charedi Jews might be facing,” Ms Turner said.
To protect the confidentiality of clients, Mavar does not work with any organisations affiliated to the Charedi community.
Ms Halon saw the new branch as “a huge opportunity to bring the great work of Mavar to the north.
“We know there are people waiting for our help who cannot access services in London.”
Beyond mentors and professional advisers, “we are also urgently seeking those who might be willing to provide short-term emergency housing, either in the form of landlords with empty rooms or individuals with empty bedrooms”.