Q & A: Bernie Myers, Chair Norwood

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

I’m motivated, along with many others, to help vulnerable people in our community and make a difference. Alongside more than 500 other lay leaders and volunteers at Norwood, we enable people to live the lives that they choose in the way that they want.

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

If I had to choose the most exciting project amongst many, it would be our Strategic Review. We are taking a fresh look at everything that Norwood does from every possible viewpoint, and are consulting with every one of the plethora of stakeholders who have an
interest in our work. We are examining every single service that we currently provide as we want to make sure that Norwood is fit for the future. We are talking to our service users, their families, our staff, other providers, our trustees, Young Norwood Consultative Committee, our major donors, local authorities and many other stakeholders. Our Strategic Plan, when completed, will provide assurances to all those who need us that we shall indeed be there for them.

3. How has the community changed in recent years from your perspective?

I think our community is moving slowly when it comes to applying strategic thinking and planning to some of our institutions and in our communal behaviour. In some ways it hasn’t
changed; there seem to be more communal bodies than ever before representing a shrinking Jewish population. Having said that, we are gradually cooperating and centralising many communal functions, but there is a long way to go.

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

The challenges facing the Jewish community today reflect many of those facing the wider community. The financial pressures on individuals and organisations caused by the economics of living through a deep recession impact donations. Reductions in state funding for individuals, and vital support services, are also causing real problems affecting people’s lives. In short, our resources are limited but the demands on those resources are growing. Within the Jewish community we have further challenges. Recent research shows that the mainstream Jewish community is declining in numbers, but the Charedi community is increasing in size. Our challenge as a community is to plan for the changing dynamics of our community. As far as Norwood is concerned, we must make sure that our plans take account of the changing demographics and retain flexibility to respond to future demands.

5. How has the JLC added value to your work in the community?

The JLC has acted as a catalyst in encouraging communal organisations to work more closely together.