The United Hebrew Congregation hosted the first Leeds Jewish Housing Association Sabbath Service on 9th April. The service also honoured the Brodetsky Early Years team.
As part of the service, which was attended by various staff and Board members, Jayne Wynick, Chair of the LJHA Board, delivered an informative and inspiring speech. She kindly recorded this on video after the service. You can view this at https://www.ljha.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Jayne-Wynick-LJHA-Shabbat-Speech-090422.mov.
The text of the speech is as follows:
Shabbat shalom to you all.
Thank you to Rabbi Chait, the President and Hon Officers of the UHC so much for recognising the work of the Leeds Jewish Housing Association with this special shabbat service and Rabbi Chait for allowing me to speak. We are delighted to be sharing it with Brodetsky Early Years, not least because Mrs Seaton and myself have been close friends for more years than I care to remember.
I think it would be true to say that between our 2 organisations, we have probably touched the lives of practically every member of our community here in Leeds.
For me, Housing is the cornerstone of all our lives. To have a safe and warm roof over our head and that of our family is a basic need. Whilst Leeds Jewish Housing are nominally in the business of bricks and mortar, it is, in reality, about helping people. If fact, we house approximately 15% of the community.
Over the last 2 years, during the pandemic, our staff have tirelessly worked to ensure our resident’s safety and wellbeing and I would like to take the opportunity today to say a very public thank you to all the staff at Leeds Jewish Housing for the extra time and effort they have put in to keeping all safe and well.
In recent weeks, we have all seen the heart-breaking stream of people having to leave their lives in Ukraine and being offered safe haven in countries across Europe. Leeds Jewish Housing welcome those displaced from their normal lives through conflict, currently we are welcoming those from Afghanistan and Syria and we are in dialogue with our Local Authority in regards to supporting those fleeing Ukraine.
On a more personal level, when I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer some years ago, my home became my safe haven. One where I could process what was happening and where I felt safest. Already involved in Leeds jewish Housing, this strengthened my resolve to ensure that this organisation continued to provide good quality homes for the whole of our community , when needed. I am truly honoured every day to be chair of Leeds Jewish Housing Association and strive to ensure that we are the best we can be.
You probably know that we have approximately half our properties as sheltered housing for our vibrant and independent elders in our community. We are just in the process of completing our 4thblock on the Queenshill site. Named Cherry Tree House, after the tree in our first tenant, Alec Seltzer’s original garden,this will be linked with the other 3, Sheila Saunders Lawn, Skyte House and Stonegare Way and also the MAZZ centre . But we also have Burton House and Lady Park Court on Shadwell Lane, Green Park and Bentcliffe Court in Moortown, all with their own activities and communities.
We also have many flats and some houses around the community for general needs, that is, anyone who wishes to live in our community and needs to be in social housing. These are mainly within the Queenshill estate but some also around Alwoodley and Moortown. Our new block, Hillside, will be home to over 30 new tenants, bringing them into our community.
These general needs properties house so many who need us, from young people wanting an independent life but within the community, people coming out of domestic abuse situations, people with vulnerabilities who need a safer place to build independence and those with a wish to be within this very expensive part of Leeds in order to remain part of the Leeds Jewish Community.
Out of our properties, we have approximately 35 family houses, which are always full and rarely come vacant. This is a testament to how settled the families are that live with us. However, this is the area where we have the most need to provide more and where we are actively looking to nearly double our provision.
As I go about my daily life, I so often end up having conversations with people who need family housing, they need safe affordable homes for them and their children, near to everything in the community, near family and friends, schools and shuls. Whether it is moving from an overcrowded flat with no secure outside space, or divorce or separation creating a new need, we need to be able to have homes to offer our families.
Leeds Jewish Housing have identified space and are at the early stages of planning to do just that, planning for 20 plus family houses. Our major hurdle is that the government funding that, just recently, provided a quarter of funds for Hillside and Cherry Tree House, has now put critieria in place for further funding which these much-needed family homes do not meet. Therefore, we are looking at a large shortfall of £50,000 per home.
Leeds Jewish Housing have rarely had to ask the community for funding, preferring to use lending and government funding but in the next few weeks these possibly will be conversations we will need to have.
Let’s all be part of this plan to provide families with the same resources in Housing that we can offer to our singles, our couples and our elderly. Let’s give them that chance of that safe roof over their heads, the chance to stay part of our community, the chance to know that Leeds is the best place to bring a family up and know that the whole community is here for them. Let them be where they can take advantage of our Jewish schools, the Zone, the shuls, Gourmet, McQues and so much more.
If anyone wants to know more about Leeds Jewish Housing or who would like further information on our plans, please come and speak to me or any of our board or staff during kiddush. If my board members could just stand up and identify themselves, we would be delighted to chat with every one of you.
May I just wish Rabbi Chait, and the whole congregation shabbat shalom.