How Britain can learn from Israel

Naomi Nevies, chair of One Family UK, outlines the way this Israeli charity supports victims of terror


It is now more than a week since the barbaric terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena. This was an atrocity deliberately aimed at the most vulnerable part of society, children enjoying themselves on a night out — and this is what has shocked the nation so much.

The UK emergency teams and Red Cross swept into action in a hugely impressive manner to offer medical assistance to the injured and comfort those who suffered the ultimate loss.

But for those who lost family members or who sustained life changing injuries, the road ahead is long and painful. As chair of One Family UK, an organisation that helps fund the aid of victims of terror in Israel, I have, sadly, seen this all too often. At first, everyone remembered victims’ names but, as time went on and the sustained terror campaign aimed at innocent Israelis continued, names turned into statistics. Now, more than 3,750 families in Israel need the help of One Family and will do for many years to come.

Every victim must embark on a seemingly impossible journey of trying to slowly rebuild their shattered lives, both physically and mentally. Through the years of experience and strong connections with hospitals, government officials and caring individuals, One Family is giving strength to a generation affected by terrorism.

It is because of these years of experience that we have reached out to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, the Red Cross and the Greater Manchester Police in the aftermath of the attack to offer material support and advice.

One Family’s model of operation has been extremely successful in getting even the most devastated of souls rehabilitated back into society. Early research has shown that receiving help in the first few days after an attack will dramatically reduce the symptoms of PTSD, so prevalent in the vast numbers of victims of terror. After that, an ongoing and multi-faceted approach to support can help them rebuild their lives.

One Family does this in many ways — counselling, retreats, help groups, peer support from other victims of terror and our very effective Big Brother and Sister programme. Focusing on the youngest of victims, like those in the Manchester Arena attack, this programme pairs children who have become victims of terror with older teens or young adults, some of whom were themselves affected by similar atrocities, to help fill part of the void left behind. The pairs are matched to fit the individual needs of the child and to help families share their experiences and heal together.

The list of services One Family offers victims of all ages is manifold.

For 16 years, unfortunately, we have had to grow to meet the needs of thousands. With a staff of 25 and volunteers numbering 400, help is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

While we pray that Manchester will be a one-off horror, we are, sadly, all now on alert.

Governments around the world could do no worse than to look towards Israel, a country living in this shadow on a daily basis, to learn how to best heal the wounds of those blighted by terror.


Naomi Nevies is chair of One Family UK

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