Director’s Blog – January

Expansion, Expansion

The last part of 2018 was a crazy but exciting few months, launching Mavar North (based in Manchester) and training additional mentors for Mavar London who themselves grew up in the Charedi world. This has meant running a bunch of training sessions, supported by updated resource packs, revised policies, DBS checks, references…….. you name it! All in a day’s work to ensure we’re at the top of our professional game.

A small selection of Mavar training materials

In London, we now have a group of mentors with great breadth and depth in terms of their professions, personal backgrounds, ages and of course personalities. It will be fun and enlightening bringing their insights and skillsets into the training room over the next few months, and it’s especially heart-warming to know that it only takes a handful of years for people who have moved beyond the confines of their orthodox upbringing to get to the point where they feel stable enough to give back.

Our expansion north of the Watford gap is exciting and demanding in equal measure. Mavar North is headed by Sally Halon whose previous role at UJIA makes her very well placed to tap into a vast network of people in the Jewish sector, but it’s always a challenge to get the initial momentum. The mentor group is well supported by education, legal and careers advisors – all based in Manchester – who are happy to meet people for one-off advisory sessions. From little acorns…..

Alongside my efforts to ensure our support network is broad-based and rigorous, there’s all the work we do to alleviate the challenges that our members are facing, whether that’s about poor literacy, a desire to study and get qualifications, feeling stuck career-wise, wanting to move out of Stamford Hill, or needing advice from a family lawyer. The majority of queries are well within our skillsets, networks and creativity, but we don’t have a magic wand and can’t instantly find solutions for every request that comes our way. Whether these come from new callers in London, Manchester or Gateshead, or returning members who we haven’t heard from in 18 months there’s always a new challenge around the corner, so thankfully our Mavar family of volunteers continues to go from strength to strength.

Just as well I had that two-week break in Croatia at the end of the summer!

Linda Turner