Council Q & A, Julian Taylor, Camp Simcha Honorary Chairman

1. How do you feel about joining the JLC? 

It is a huge honour to have been invited to be part of JLC and to be included in the process of debate and discussion on key communal issues of strategy and planning. Camp Simcha is a small but unique charity which works to provide a range of practical and emotional support services to families who have a child with a life threatening illness. As providers of these services we feel we have an important perspective to give so are pleased to be offered the opportunity to bring that to the table.

2. What opportunities do you hope to get from joining the JLC and what expertise will Camp Simcha offer to the JLC and its member organisations?

We hope to be able to benefit from being part of discussions of communal concern and also to contribute to critical debates concerning the strategy and priorities for the social welfare provision, especially for those with children suffering from serious illnesses. We see on a day to day basis the challenges involved for families in this situation – from juggling family life and the needs of siblings while caring for a sick child to the problems of negotiating the welfare system to the need for respite services and so much more. We hope our insight means we can contribute most usefully in this area.

3. What motivates you to be involved in communal life?

The challenge of taking Camp Simcha onward in itself motivates me as have the challenges  in my previous communal activities in ‘Shul life’ and Education.

4. What is the most exciting project you are currently involved in? 

We are currently seeking to expand our remit to be able to support children whose lives are blighted by serious illness that is not necessarily life threatening but has a significant impact on their quality of life. We hear daily from the families we support at the moment about just what a lifeline we offer, whether it is the emotional support, the hospital transports, the benefits advice, the art therapy or the Big Brothers and Sisters who are a special friend to the kids and their siblings. We want to reach more families who need us. Even when the illness is not life-threatening, the strain and heartache for families who have to cope with a sick or suffering child on a daily or long-term basis is unimaginable. We know we can make a difference to their lives as well and we are working towards this.

5. What are the biggest challenges facing the community today? 

You just have to take a look at the incredible charities which exist in the Jewish community today to realise that while it is amazing that as a communal group we are striving to support our own, we also face a huge need and over-stretched resources. We have an ageing population and an ever-widening range of people in the community who need support. There is danger that we become so busy competing for limited resources that we forget to work together. The Jewish community has always tried to act as a ‘Big Society’ supporting its own. As organisations we need to ensure we keep working together and that we maintain unity across all sections of the community so that we can do this effectively.