Kisharon is one of London’s best-known Jewish charities. It’s valuable, cherished and important, providing the community with vital support for hundreds of people with learning disabilities, as well as their families.

The services are located over several London sites and cater for the needs of people with learning disabilities throughout their lives –from nursery and school for children, through to supported living services, college, day services and work opportunities for older people.

But did you know the charity also offers further education for people with learning disabilities?

The programme, in partnership with Hackney Community College, is aimed at helping people aged 16 to 25 with learning disabilities to access further education in a culturally appropriate environment they feel comfortable with.

“Kisharon provides support for each individual to develop their potential and live a fulfilling life within the community,” says Aviva Braunold, manager of Day Support, Education and Therapies at Kisharon.

“This is an excellent partnership between Kisharon and Hackney Community College that provides opportunities for the development of personal skills and further independence for people in the community who wish to access further education within a culture they are familiar with.

“Jewish input is incorporated into sessions: for example, we have   blessings, prayers and lunchtime learning options for men and women, and independent living skills comply with all aspects of a kosher home,” she adds.

“The partnership ensures that all staff receive an extensive induction, which includes information on all Jewish festivals and religious and cultural practices.

“Programmes are based around suitable activities which are in keeping with the Jewish way of life.”

HCC@Kisharon, as it is called, opened in September 2014 and is based in Hackney’s Brenner centre.

The courses offered on the programme comprise a variety of educational areas, including numeracy and literacy, basic skills, independent living, social skills and work experience opportunities within both the local and wider community.

“These courses allow the individual to grow and develop in independence from adolescence to adulthood,” says Braunold. “They teach people to develop confidence, increase knowledge of basic skills and life skills and live a more independent life.”

The courses are structured towards students learning to be independent, with suitable support provided for their needs.

“Students work in small groups with specialist support tailored to meet their needs, which gradually reduce as they learn to do more things for themselves,” adds Braunold.

“The course is person-centred and determined by individual need and choice, building on existing skills and pointing students to where they want to be at the end of the course.

“Students will develop communication, English and maths skills relevant to everyday life embedded in all areas of the course.

“There will also be opportunities to develop skills to use technology and explore how the digital world can increase independence.”

The courses are tailored to the cultural, religious and educational needs of each individual student.

They’re not just about learning, but about real life experience: work   experience opportunities in the third year and support from Kisharon’s employment manager allow the learning to become a real life experience for students to develop beyond their years at the college.

MP Iain Duncan Smith at the opening of Kisharon’s further education facility in Stamford Hill

MP Iain Duncan Smith at the opening of Kisharon’s further education facility in Stamford Hill

Braunold says there have been a number of success stories that have evolved from Kisharon’s partnership with the college.

“One parent gave great feedback, paying tribute to the staff working with her son,” she says. “He entered the provision extremely shy and quiet, and felt unable to participate in daily tasks that other people his age could do easily.

“She explained that through the care, support and attention to detail, and the person-centred programme that he has received at HCC @ Kisharon, he is now a confident young man who prides himself in being able to access two jobs.

“He engages well within the community and he is comfortable that his Jewish culture has not been compromised during his educational experiences.”

Braunold says other people have been enormously helped by the structure afforded by the course.

“Another parent commented that her son’s behavior significantly improved since attending the HCC @ Kisharon provision, due to the structured timetable and detailed learning plan he accesses each wday to become more independent,” she says.

“He is now able to plan a menu, cook meals in the kitchen, set the table and wash up, which have all helped towards his independent living for the future.”

Find out more at the HCC@Kisharon Open Day on Wednesday, 26 April, 10am to 1pm at Brenner Centre, Stamford Hill, N16 5TP. Details: Hadassa Kessler, 07815 479814 or hadassak@kisharon.org.uk

MP Iain Duncan Smith at the opening of Kisharon’s further education facility in Stamford Hill (above and below left), which is in partnership with Hackney Community College