United Synagogue volunteers make packs for 100 asylum seeker families
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United Synagogue volunteers make packs for 100 asylum seeker families

US Chesed department swung into action to pack and deliver essentials to the needy after two synagogue-based drop-in centres were forced to close due to the pandemic

Hannah Gerson from US Chesed with bags of the essential packs ready to be sent out to asylum seeker families.
Hannah Gerson from US Chesed with bags of the essential packs ready to be sent out to asylum seeker families.

Volunteers for the United Synagogue have been making packs to support 100 asylum seeker families during lockdown.

Those in need have been receiving help after in-person drop-centres at two London shuls were forced to close by the pandemic.

The US’s Chesed department, meaning ‘loving kindness’, ensured vulnerable people continue to get food, vouchers and assistance, while its centres at Hendon and Woodford Forest United Synagogues can’t operate.

A crack team of volunteers have put packs together and distributed them across the capital, ensuring they are customised to help individual families’ needs, containing everything from toiletries and clothes, to toys, books and bedding.

In the first lockdown, from May to July, teams delivered essential items once a week, while from November onwards, after the implementation of tier four, deliveries became at least once-a-month.

Hannah Gerson from US Chesed said: “Although we have not been able to run ‘in person’ drop-in centres due to the most recent lockdown, the families we help are still in desperate need of support, so it is crucial that we have been able to provide these essential packs.

“A huge thank you to our volunteers who help us to put together the packs and deliver them to the families as well as our befriending team who speak to our guests regularly. As the lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, we are looking forward to opening our centre in a Covid-safe manner in the upcoming weeks and look forward to seeing our guests in person once again.”

Woodford Forest’s drop-in centre is due to open next week and will be run completely outdoors, with asylum seeker families able to attend by appointment only, with two families at a time.

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