Coming full circle
There’s been a sudden rush of calls from people who left ultra-orthodoxy some years ago who now want to support others in the process of leaving the haredi community of Stamford Hill. Within the space of 3 weeks we had 4 emails from formerly frum young men and women who want to ‘give back’, so we’ll be training them up shortly to become Mavar mentors, which will boost our mentor team to around 20. We’re really thrilled to see the team evolving and strengthening, bringing in skills from professions such as education, law, therapy, computing, financial services, social work, engineering, marketing, and child safeguarding. We can really see the difference it makes to have that kind of breadth in the team as well as a range of ages. Our youngest mentors are in their late 20’s and the oldest in their 70’s! Vitality and wisdom – a great combination.
Counselling, supervising and emotional support
In some ways, leaving ultra-orthodoxy becomes easier when others have done is successfully before you, and can reassure you, but the challenges are just as great and the anxieties ever present. So it’s good to have counsellors who so kindly give us their time pro bono to meet members every week or two to talk through those anxieties. At Mavar we try to keep the practical support separate from emotional support, but inevitably our mentors are pulled into people’s private worlds and so the on-going training and support we offer is vital. Mavar’s mentor supervisor is a qualified psychodynamic counsellor, psychotherapist and social worker, with many years’ experience as a mentor and supervisor. She occasionally gives me the benefit of her wise counsel too, which can be live-saving given the constant challenges thrown at us!
There’s a natural ebb and flow of new calls. Sometimes we take 3 new calls in a week and then we might not hear from anyone for several weeks. Plus there’s the post festival factor: an excess of matzah, cleaning cupboards, beating one’s chest or latkes can trigger a desire for new horizons. Fortunately, as volunteers, we’re able to respond as and when needed, except during the summer holiday season when lots of the volunteers are away – just one of the challenges in running a predominantly volunteer organisation.
Our other exciting development is the new team emerging in Manchester, led by Sally Halon. Sally has most recently been UK Director of Programming for UJIA so her network is vast. She’s building a team, comparable to the London one, to support callers from Manchester and the north and we’ll be training them all in the autumn. It will be a real bonus to have local support for our Manchester members from a highly experienced and motivated group of individuals. So Manchester, here we come
Enjoy whatever is left of the summer sun. Until next blog!