This is a time of great concern for communities across the UK and around the world. Like many other Jewish and international charities, World Jewish Relief is preparing for how this Covid-19 outbreak will affect the work we do with vulnerable people around the world and how we might be able to respond to the impact caused by the virus.
The safety of our staff is paramount and in line with UK government advice on social distancing we have now shut our office and are working remotely. We have suspended all our travel to reduce the risk to staff, partners and those we support overseas and in the UK. We have made these adjustments so our work can continue with minimal disruption to those who most need our help.
We are particularly concerned for the older people we work with across Eastern Europe as well as for refugees in static situations and victims of recent disasters who are trying to rebuild their lives.
Many of those we support in Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Georgia have underlying health conditions, live in chronic poverty and have limited access to healthcare services. Although levels of infection are currently relatively low in these countries, a wider outbreak could have severe consequences for this group of clients and the safety net provided by World Jewish Relief is more important than ever. We want to ensure that our older clients don’t feel abandoned at this time of uncertainty so we are continuing our visits by qualified home carers and are making sure they receive essential medical and food supplies.
World Jewish Relief is uniquely placed in the Jewish world with an extensive global and local network, working with 66 partners in 15 countries. We are talking to them to ensure they are keeping their own staff and volunteers safe and asking them to assess the impact on those we currently support. But we have also been working with them to identify ways they can ramp up their activities to support those most at risk.
This might be health promotion, provision of hygiene services, soap distribution, visiting and assisting people who are socially isolated or helping to reduce panic and worry. We may be able to adapt some existing programmes to address different demands and or we may need to initiate new activity.
We are already seeing a great response to this drive by our partners in the UK who are helping us to get refugees into employment. Many of the classes and training have already gone online to ensure people continue to benefit from our life-changing work but are also being kept informed, connected and safe.
We will also be coordinating and collaborating with key actors and coalitions on any international interventions and will remain flexible while the nature of this disaster unfolds.
We are working hard to ensure that we can continue to support those most vulnerable to the impact of this disaster and as a Jewish organisation to help respond where we are able.