Business woman and philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley and comedian Ashley Blaker helped Kisharon raise more than £800,000 at the charity’s annual dinner, held at the Lancaster Hotel on Wednesday 8th July and attended by over 600 people. The evening’s speakers all had children with learning disabilities.
Chief executive Dr Beverley Jacobson outlined Kisharon’s achievements of the past year then revealed plans to expand the supported living service into Stamford Hill.
Dame Stephanie Shirley spoke movingly about her son Giles, who had autism, and who spent years in a secure hospital before dying of a seizure at the age of 35, unable to access services such as those offered by Kisharon. “I really appreciate the work that Kisharon does as the leading Jewish organisation working in the field…. we must not let these vulnerable people down.”
The cause is close to the hearts of dinner chairs Nicola and Jeffrey Rubinoff as their four-year-old daughter Evie attends Tuffkid Nursery.
Welcoming the guests Mrs Rubinoff said: “There are some questions which people might not want to ask: how does it feel to be a parent of a beautiful daughter with Down’s syndrome? When Evie was born our lives changed, and it changed the lives of our other children. We were so naive… From this place of confusion it was Kisharon that became a beacon of light for us.”
The audience included adults who are supported by the charity and menu cards and the brochure were produced in an Easy Read format. This scored a hit with guests including Sky News’ Doctor Ellie Cannon, who tweeted: “Tonight is a celebration of Kisharon’s fantastic work.”
Instead of a more traditional campaign film, a three minute video with heightened sound effects gave a powerful insight into how the world might appear through the eyes of people with learning disabilities who are hypersensitive. This was shown after Mr Rubinoff’s appeal for funds.
There was praise from Tottenham MP David Lammy, who was asked to make a loyal toast to The Queen. “I have seen the fantastic work that Kisharon does [in Stamford Hill] – and as a father of a child with special needs, I salute you for what you do.”
As a Charedi Jew, writer and stand-up comic Ashley Blaker is the only comedian working in television who doesn’t actually own one. The father-of-six is pleased to support Kisharon as his six-year-old daughter, Soroh, attends its day school: “She goes there every day on the bus and is so happy there, she doesn’t want to come home.”
The following day, Kisharon chairman Philip Goldberg said: “We have raised over 40 per cent of the £1.8 million that we need to run existing services – this is a fantastic achievement and I am immensely proud of the team who have made this possible. ”