A UK Jewish charity has seen its workload triple because of the corona pandemic.
Paperweight, run by 200 volunteer caseworkers in London, Manchester and Gateshead, operates as the Jewish community’s answer to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, giving hands-on help and explanation to clients. Many of them are making their way through a thicket of forms and bureaucracy for the first time.
New client numbers — in the year ending July 31 2020 — have shot up by more than 50 per cent to 716 cases. Many of the cases are very complex, say Paperweight, which estimates its total workload has tripled.
In the wake of the pandemic, the charity says, “more clients have been self-referring and many of these have never had any meaningful exposure to the complexities of welfare and benefits, housing law, employment rights and so on: their lives have been turned upside down” Nearly every one of the new clients has multiple issues, Paperweight reports. Currently all its services are free.
The other huge problem, as a direct result of lockdown, is that response times from local authorities, government departments and financial institutions have “slowed to a snail’s-pace, a two-hour phone queue or just a bounce-back email – so helping to resolve the issues of those in need becomes even more challenging”.
Despite this, Paperweight’s volunteer caseworkers, some self-isolating themselves, have helped hundreds of people in the Jewish community survive the immediate fallout from the pandemic.
Bayla Perrin, Paperweight’s chief executive, said: “Sadly, with the furlough scheme now winding down, we know the situation is only going to get worse and stretch our resources to breaking point. We urgently need extra funding to meet the anticipated upsurge in demand”.
For free guidance and support on legal, financial and welfare benefits issues, please visit or call 020 8455 4996 (Head Office).