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New charity launches


JSENSE, the new charity set up to improve the education of Manchester Jewish children with special educational needs, was launched officially on Sunday 6th October at The Hub, in Broughton.

An audience of around fifty professional experts and representatives from secular, modern orthodox and ultra-orthodox Manchester community institutions and Jewish schools listened attentively to the new charity’s innovative plans to improve Jewish special needs education in Greater Manchester over the next few years.

The initial flagship service to develop the skills of Jewish school staff in working with special needs with unique purpose designed training is starting in November. JSENSE is also assisting the development of a new local direct service which is providing specialist help to overcome the learning disabilities of Jewish children in the key areas of English and Hebrew reading and numeracy.

Later on it is intended to facilitate the provision of Jewish Studies education for Jewish children who are attending non-Jewish schools because of their learning disabilities, and to help smaller independent charedi schools access high level expertise on managing special educational needs issues in their schools. As JSENSE establishes itself over the next few years it plans to attract funding to enable it to introduce new specialist services.

Trustee Janis Stout, who organised the official launch, explained how JSENSE came about and its intentions for the future then read out a message of support from local MP, Ivan Lewis. She then introduced the keynote speaker, Sue Woodgate, (Assistant Director for Targeted Services, Salford). Ms Woodgate explained how she had willingly become involved in JSENSE’s initial research at an early stage and had been very pleased to advise the organisation whose aims exactly complemented Salford’s own plans to provide targeted specialist help to needy young people and communities in Salford. She was delighted to see JSENSE come to fruition, wished it very success in its endeavours, and offered ongoing direct contact with Salford to provide future support and guidance.

Chairman Malcolm Joels thanked Ms Woodgate for her encouragement and help, and gave public thanks to the many people and institutions who had helped to shape JSENSE’s plans and worked to bring those plans to fruition. Mr Joels also acknowledged the vital and generous contribution of the hard working team of trustees, honorary consultant advisers and partner organisations who are responsible for the future development of the services for this vital cause.

He continued, “Every single child or young person with special educational needs in the Greater Manchester Jewish community, deserves the best quality support for their particular needs, so as to maximise their educational achievements, and their acquisition of the key life skills which others acquire naturally.

A child with special needs is not at fault for having those needs, nor is the family. But these young people can benefit hugely from the right kind of help. If their teachers and helpers have the right specialist knowledge, and resources, they can learn, develop and become happy and productive human beings. But without that help, they can so easily be stranded helplessly, with little education, or understanding of how to communicate and interact with others, or how to look after themselves – something their contemporaries can take for granted.”

Mr Joels concluded with a heartfelt appeal to the audience and the wider Manchester Jewish community to help by spreading awareness of JSENSE and by encouraging local donors to support its services. He also appealed for new volunteers from the community, especially those with management and organisational skills, who are needed to assist in the management of the new services - an understanding of special educational needs is unnecessary as the JSENSE team has the required knowledge and skills.