A Jewish artist in Leicester whose father survived the Holocaust has joined a Church project helping asylum seekers learn English, citing her own family’s experience.
Claire Jackson’s father Maurice Jackson was born Mauric Jakubovic in Czechoslovakia, and escaped with the help of a network of Christian women, who he later credited with saving his life.
Now Claire, 68, has begun offering classes through the Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation in a project funded by Near Neighbours, which is part of the Church Urban Fund.
Claire and the team now teach conversational English in weekly evening classes at the Neve Shalom Synagogue to asylum-seekers from a range of backgrounds, in order to build their confidence.
“My father was a refugee from the Holocaust,” she said. “His family were murdered at Auschwitz and other concentration camps. One of his brothers was forced to dig his own grave.
“This kind of experience within a family doesn’t end with the refugee. It is often transmitted to the children of the refugee. That’s one reason why I want to work with refugees. I am aware of the effects flight has on children and indeed on children’s children.”
The Near Neighbours programme has been running across England since 2011, pouring more than £4 million into 150 projects, and programme director Liz Carnelley paid tribute to the significance of the LPJC project.
She said: “I have met a couple of people involved as volunteers in this project and it is a great example of the Jewish community coming together to support people in need, in this case by introducing them to conversational English – which is so important for integration and confidence building.”