Holocaust charity gives away £35m

Otto Schiff Housing Association will pass on all its assets and close in about five years

Charity to give away assets
Charity to give away assets

The Otto Schiff Housing Association, a charity that supports survivors of the Holocaust, is planning to give away all its assets to other charities and then close down because it believes they are better placed to carry out the work.

It has given £17m to the charity World Jewish Relief and £18m to Jewish Care, and will continue to give funds to other charities that support Jewish people until it has no money left.

Ashley Mitchell, chair of the charity, told Third Sector he expected it would close in about five years. He said he had decided to sell all of the charity's properties and give out all of its money because it had made a formal commitment to supporting Holocaust survivors, and he believed other charities were better placed to do this.

The charity, formed in 1984 as an offshoot of the Central British Fund for German Jewry, which was set up in 1934 to provide shelter and care for German Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, has sold seven properties in the past decade. Five of these were care homes and two were sheltered housing for Jewish people.

Mitchell has been a trustee of both World Jewish Relief and Jewish Care. Asked whether this was a conflict of interest, he said it was not, because the housing association was legally bound to give a proportion of the money to World Jewish Relief.

He chose Jewish Care, he said, because it was the largest care provider for the Jewish community and was best placed to deliver the housing association's objects. The money was given on condition that the services it funded gave priority to Holocaust survivors.

Mitchell also said it would have been difficult to justify using the funding for other purposes because there was still a significant need among Holocaust survivors in the UK.

"The money is needed now," he said. "A lot of Holocaust survivors live in difficult situations. Much of the funding has supported a state-of-the-art care facility that supports 100 people, of which between 60 and 70 survived the Holocaust."

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