Welcome to our round-up of news for the UK Jewish learning disabilities community. If you know of something you'd like to share let us know here.

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Hidden in plain sight: dementia and learning disability

May 2018

This report from the Mental Health Foundation and the Foundation for People with learning disabilities  highlights how more that a million of people with learning disabilities have become invisible in national dementia policy.

People with a learning disability are three times more likely to develop dementia than the rest of the population. But a review of current government strategy has revealed that their needs are barely mentioned.

It is vital that 1.4 million people in Britain, identified as having a learning disability, are not invisible. We want to work with policy makers and services to make sure their needs are clearly recognised and they are provided with appropriate and targeted support as they age and if they develop Dementia.

Hidden in plain sight: dementia and learning disability (1.6 MB)


Advocacy project gets bus drivers onboard for more accessible transport

May 2018

The Big Day Network runs awareness events in bus garages to improve travel for people with learning disabilities.

Read about this project in The Guardian.


Generosity without limits - Kisharon raises £1.1m

May 2018

More than 700 guests at the Success Without Limits dinner at the Lancaster Hotel on Sunday evening raised a record £1.12m towards the £2.1m needed this year from our supporters to meet the £6m cost of Kisharon's services.
Chief Executive Bev Jacobson, noted that this was all the more remarkable given that those in the room had also pledged almost 90 per cent of the funds towards the £12.5 million Kisharon School redevelopment project. Construction is scheduled to start in the summer. 

Bev outlined her vision for the year ahead, and keynote speakers, comedian Ashley Blaker and disability pioneer, Keith Jones, pictured, gave unique and remarkable insights into Kisharon. This, together with an astonishing appeal film focusing on Elias Castleton, the son of dinner chairs Adam and Emma, a pupil at Kisharon School, helped reach the highest-ever total raised by the charity at a single event.

Watch highlights of the evening here, and for Kisharon's 2018 appeal film and keynote speeches, click here. Kisharon Chairman, Philip Goldberg, said success without limits is part of day- to-day life at Kisharon, thanks to its amazing supporters.

Despite this resounding success, Kisharon must now secure £760k in donations before Rosh Hashanah to cover the remaining and unfunded annual operational costs. This is in addition to the 10 per cent balance needed to build the new school. Our top priority is to ensure success without limits, through education, employment and housing support for people with learning disabilities.


Easy Read Guide on Everyday Banking

May 2018

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have published an easy read guide on everyday banking , aimed at helping some autistic consumers better understand financial services. They have developed this guide in partnership with the National Autistic Society (NAS). They published the guide during World Autism Awareness Week, in an effort to raise awareness of the issues some autistic people face when accessing financial services.

The guide has been created by the winning team of the FCA Chief Executive Challenge, their graduate corporate responsibility programme. The challenge sees each new cohort of graduates tasked with sourcing and delivering a project or cause in a local area. The team knew it was important to understand the needs of their target consumer group, so they asked them what they needed to build their understanding of financial services. They were told that an easy read guide would be the most effective solution to the difficulties some autistic consumers face with financial services. After winning the challenge, the team realised that the guide could benefit these autistic consumers nationally.

The guide is set out in an easy read format. Easy read is particular way of formatting written information, and is designed to help a document’s readability. It increases readability by including images that are relevant to the text, and following a logical and concise structure.

The easy read guide can be found here.



Hidden crisis: Autistic people four times more likely to be lonely than general public

May 2018

New research suggests autistic people are among most lonely and isolated in UK

National Autistic Society calls on Government to make sure upcoming strategy for tackling loneliness addresses the specific needs of autistic people

Our new research* suggests that autistic people are among the most isolated and lonely in the UK. We compared the results of our new survey of almost 900 autistic people with the Government’s own data and the findings indicate that autistic people are four times as likely to be lonely as the general public. Our previous research** suggests that 79% of autistic people feel socially isolated.

We are calling on Tracey Crouch MP, the minister with responsibility for tackling loneliness, to make sure the Government's upcoming strategy addresses the root causes of loneliness for autistic people.

Tracey Crouch MP recently spoke about her work, including a visit to an autism service, at the inaugural meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Loneliness and Social Isolation (Tuesday 27 March). She also talked about the isolation faced by many parents of autistic people and the importance of improving public understanding of autism.

More than 1 in 100 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Most autistic people want more friends and connections but many find forming and maintaining social relationships difficult and confusing. The difficulties autistic people can face filtering out the sounds, smells, sights and information can leave them feeling overwhelmed and anxious in busy public spaces. Combined with anxiety about the public misunderstanding their distress, it can be hard to go out at all.

Without appropriate and accessible support and services, many autistic people fall into isolation and this can lead to loneliness. Social isolation has been linked to both mental and physical health problems, with the impact of loneliness estimated to be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day***

Nita lives in Colchester and was diagnosed with autism nearly two decades ago, when she was 15. She said: “For me personally, autism is first and foremost a social disability, and I say disability because it does indeed have a disabling effect on my ability to communicate with others.

Mark Lever, our Chief Executive, said: “Our research suggests that autistic people are some of the most isolated and lonely in the UK. This can be devastating and lead to serious physical and mental health problems.

“At the National Autistic Society, we won’t accept a world where autistic people feel they have to shut themselves away. The Government can’t tackle loneliness unless it reduces the shocking levels of social isolation amongst autistic people – and addresses the root causes.

“We’ve written to Tracey Crouch MP, who is leading this work, to offer to work with her to ensure the upcoming strategy makes a difference to autistic people across the country. This means making sure everyone can get the help they need, like peer support, and training on how to cope in social situations, alongside improving public understanding of autism.”

* The National Autistic Society compared the responses of 869 autistic adults to their 2017 survey with equivalent data from the Office for National Statistics’ Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (2015)

** Based on a 2016 National Autistic Society survey of over 7,000 autistic people, their family members and friends, and professionals.

*** Campaign to end loneliness (2010).


What happens when I’m no longer around?

February 2018 have produced a film for family carers who have a relative with a learning disability, autism, or both. It addresses the key areas of planning for your relative’s future when you’re no longer around.

The film includes information that we feel is important for people to know about, through our own conversations with family carers , as well as key information from Thinking Ahead – a future planning guide written by Christine Towers from Together Matters. We hope this film provides a useful introduction to help you start planning your futures together.


Disability World: Company seeks autism skills

11 January 2018

London company Auticon is offering careers in IT and related areas specifically for people with autism.

Auticon is an award-winning IT and compliance consulting business. It only employs people on the autistic spectrum on the grounds that they have unique skills. Clients include blue chip companies like the Allianz Group and Siemens, and the company expands its services to areas where employees show particular strengths.

Job coaches prepare Auticon staff to work with clients, give briefings on corporate culture and, like Kisharon, offer travel training.
Auticon was founded in the knowledge that individuals with autism often have exceptional talents in logic, attention to detail, accuracy and pattern recognition. Many have a strong interest in IT, physics, maths and technology.

An Auticon spokesman says: “Despite being highly intelligent and qualified, many find it difficult to access or maintain mainstream careers. Challenges in social interactions – such as eye and body contact or the interpretation of facial expressions can make it stressful to navigate everyday work interactions.”

For more information, go to:


Autism first for Kisharon School

11 January 2018

The National Autistic Society (NAS) has awarded Kisharon School its sought-after accreditation for autism, making it the first Jewish school with the accolade.

It acknowledges the school’s understanding of autism and its outstanding commitment to supporting pupils with the condition.
website autism.

Although autistic pupils represent only a quarter of the school population – others have some autistic traits – they are well supported with developed specialist approaches and methods, the NAS report said.

Kisharon School worked towards the accreditation for two years. The NAS assessment itself took place over three days when classes were observed, and staff and pupils with autism, as well as their parents, were interviewed. School policies and programmes for individual students were scrutinised vigorously.

The report said: “Autistic pupils presented as calm, content and at ease within their environment. The early signs of anxiety or upset are addressed and on the rare occasion where it was felt necessary to intervene to control a pupil’s behaviour, this is done in a considered, purposeful way and in keeping with the school’s commitment to a last resort approach.”

School Head Sora Kopfstein said: “To be recognised is extremely encouraging for all our staff, parents and students. It demonstrates that we are offering some of the best autism-specific services in the Jewish community.”


Disability World: Write on!

It’s never easy to write a formal, official letter – particularly when it comes to making a complaint or fighting for something we’re entitled to. But help is at hand…
Disability Grants, which pools together useful information about grants and how to apply for them, has brought together a comprehensive and useful selection of templates that range from requesting an assessment of needs to complaining about cuts to a care package. The templates are a helpful starting point for communicating with statutory authorities. You can just copy and paste the letter you require and personalise it with your own details and information.

The templates follow a recommended format and are drawn together from different organisations including Cerebra, Citizens Advice, the National Autistic Society and many others. It’s well worth a look. You can access these templates under ‘Resources’ on the Disability Grants website, or directly at:


Jewish Care Interact

Jewish Care Interact is managed by Jewish Care, the largest health and social care organisation serving the Jewish community in London and the South East of England.

Jewish Care Interact was born of the desire to support older and disabled Jewish people—along with their friends, family and carers—to lead meaningful lives wherever they are in the UK and whenever they choose.

As we live in the digital age, we decided to make the most of technology and deliver this service online.

We're a small but nimble team of staff and volunteers supported by the wider community. We work with experts within Jewish Care and other Jewish and non-Jewish third sector organisations, but most importantly we have developed this service alongside its users—from older and disabled people to their friends, families and carers.

You can access Jewish Care Interact's Learning Disabilities pages here.


It's good to talk...

Save this number: 0300 222 5949

After joining forces with learning disabilities charities Langdon and Kisharon, Jweb is set to make news again with the launch of our national telephone helpline. Aimed at families, carers and people with learning disabilities, this new resource offers confidential emotional support, signposting and information on relevant services in the Jewish and wider communities. is proving to be a valuable resource for connecting our visitors with services and organisations which can help them. The introduction of the helpline will enhance our existing service and will enable our team to offer personalised support which is great news for our community. Call 0300 222 5949 or email your questions confidentially to


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