Charity serving disabled Jews launches fundraiser after minibus stolen

Charity serving disabled Jews launches fundraiser after minibus stolen

Uniting Friends, which works alongside community organisation Norwood, appeals for help after van taken costing it £15,000

Volunteers at a charity serving disabled Jews in Essex have said they are making progress in their quest for funds after their minibus was stolen.

Uniting Friends, which works with Norwood and takes clients with learning disabilities to and from communal activities in and around Redbridge, has been raising money for a replacement after its bus was nabbed.

“We just finished the transportation home on Friday last week and the bus was no longer there on the Monday morning when we went to pick people up,” said the charity’s chief executive Russell Lerner. “The loss will cost us about £15,000.”

The charity provides paid supported employment and runs a cafe whereby clients are trained for external jobs in catering. It gets an annual grant of £44,000 from Redbridge Council for its evening and weekend peer mentoring programme.

In an effort to pay for the new bus, volunteers have raised £1,200, with Lerner estimating it would cost £9,000 to hire a short-term replacement.

“This is a big loss to the organisation obviously, and to the community,” he said. “It’s a big blow, to a charity that is struggling anyway in times of austerity. The vehicle is clearly a minibus for the disabled but that didn’t deter [the thieves]”.

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