NEWSMAKER: Community concern - Justine Harris, Director of marketing, Jewish Care


Jewish Care has a £45 million budget every year, 2,000 staff and 2,500 volunteers. It operates and has most of its supporters in the Jewish community, which is a tightly knit, relatively small group. According to Justine Harris, director of marketing, in London and the South East, the Jewish community consists of only 185,000 people. "You would therefore expect to find us really well known,

she says.

But research conducted by the charity showed that many people in the Jewish community didn't even realise that Jewish Care was a charity, seeing it as a social services provider. "We described ourselves as Anglo-Jewry's largest service provider, so people, not surprisingly, thought of us as just this, a service provider."

There was a lack of understanding of the services the organisation provided.

People tended to think of it as a care provider for the elderly. Although it does operate in this area, Jewish Care also works in other areas of care such as mental health, counselling for drug users and their families, and support for getting unemployed people back to work.

"Part of this lack of understanding is because we weren't coherent enough.

We needed a strong identity. There was very little personality or image associated with the organisation,

says Harris.

This lack of coherence was partly due to the broad range of services offered by the charity but also related to its history. "Jewish Care is actually an amalgamation of 10 charities,

says Harris. "We are a sum of many parts.

The charity was formed in 1990 when the Jewish Welfare Board and the Jewish Blind Society merged. "Although they worked in different areas, they had commonalities and felt they were wasting resources.

Since then many smaller groups have also joined the organisation.

"The feeling was that Jewish Care was the answer, it had strong support and a lot of volunteers,

says Harris. But research showed that the perception of the organisation was slipping and although it had strong support, concern was growing that the next generation of givers might not come through.

The Jewish community has a strong history of giving to charity. "It's a strong part of what we do as a Jewish person,

says Harris. But as the community is growing and dissipating, values such as this are being stretched.

"The social responsibility of the younger generation is not something we can take for granted,

says Harris.

On arriving at Jewish Care from Saatchi %26 Saatchi Harris started to work on repositioning the organisation within the community. As part of this the charity has launched a new, controversial advertising campaign designed by agency Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw. Harris says that the Jewish community prides itself on certain attributes such as family, community and togetherness and its support network. The advertising campaign unpicks these ideals and shows that life isn't quite as people would like it to be. It aims to encourage people to support Jewish Care and help it to do more to look after the community.

The first ad was launched on Friday and shows an old man alone in his kitchen pouring milk into a kettle, illustrating a decline in care for the elderly. "Fifty years ago when your parents got older they came to live with you,

says Harris.

The next ad will be entitled Friday Night, a very significant evening for Jewish people because the whole family traditionally gets together.

It will show an elderly man sitting alone at a table.

The next ads will move away from care for the elderly, the service that Jewish Care is traditionally associated with, and look at its other services.

One will feature a woman trying to commit suicide, labelled Jewish Mother.

Another will feature a girl taking drugs and being discovered by her mother, with the strapline Jewish Princess.

The adverts will be quite different from anything Jewish Care has done before, but Harris does not feel there is any danger of losing original supporters. "We have consulted with representative groups, clients, donors and trustees, and we have notified all our donors of what will be happening so they are familiar with where we are heading."

The organisation has also streamlined marketing material, putting together a new welcome pack for donors and a staff briefing pack to ensure that the new message and identity runs through the whole organisation. Kitcatt Nohr also helped the organisation create a new corporate identity.

As far as service provision is concerned, Harris says research has shown that the 70 services the organisation offers are answering clients needs.

But she says: "We have to look at what the community's future needs will be and where we need to develop new services. We expect, for example, that the way we provide residential care may have to change. The next generations of older people may not want to be in the kind of care homes they are in now, they may want to live in more independent houses with other elderly people. We have to start developing and researching this as people may not want the same thing."

Harris has found introducing such big changes to the organisation exciting, but also a great responsibility. "In the voluntary sector you feel aware of the money you are spending. If anything doesn't work, it would have a major effect on the charity.

But she adds that although the move to the voluntary sector was harder than she imagined, it has also been rewarding. "I was captivated by Jewish Care, and felt there was something I could give back to my community. And you do get a lot back,"she says.


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