Over 500 women from across the Jewish community came to Allianz Park on Wednesday 11th September 2019 in support of Chana, the Jewish community’s fertility support organisation.

This was the 15th brunch, an event which has grown from an intimate affair in a private home to this landmark occasion in the communal calendar.

Brunch Chair,  Lissie Morris explained: “The Chana Brunch is an important platform to raise awareness of Chana and it’s wide reaching services. We ensure that the messages are told loudly and clearly – that if you or someone you are close to is having difficulties connected to having a baby, Chana is here for you.”

At this year’s gathering, Chana launched its first ever book, generously sponsored by the Rachel Charitable Trust. Titled ‘Un-expecting: Personal Stories of Resilience’, the beautiful, hardback book features 40 stories from contributors within the community, some anonymous and many not, that describe a range of life-changing issues and how people have coped in the face of these unexpected challenges.

Chana’s Honorary Executive Director and Principal Social Worker, Carolyn Cohen said: “The word ‘Un-expecting’, is a word coined by Chana –  put simply, it is the opposite of expecting, being pregnant, but clients come to Chana in a far more complex state than simply not being pregnant.  They are not expecting the challenges they are having to face or the journey they are about the embark on.  Not expecting the strain on their close relationships and marriage, which is sometimes a result.  Not expecting the invasion of privacy of the tests and treatments.  Not expecting the huge emotional strain and prohibitive financial costs.”

Louisa Conn, Chana’s Project Manager said: “The book, gives a voice to some of the clients Chana supports , it takes the theme of ‘un-expecting’ and uses it to embrace all sorts of unexpected challenges that life can throw at us. They include not only infertility, but also bereavement, illness and trauma. We are so grateful to those who have bravely shared their personal stories of resilience in order to provide inspiration and encouragement to others.”

In her address, Carolyn said “ We are all living in unexpected, challenging times.  Whatever the future holds, politically or otherwise, Chana clients continue to need help through their un-expecting journeys.”

Two contributors to the book, Sarah Max and Shelley Harrod spoke bravely to the packed-out venue about their own devastating experiences with baby-loss, about how Chana helped them through their darkest times and helped them regain strength to try again. They both went on to have children after their experiences.

Chana hopes to raise £70,000 to develop their services and ensure clients receive the best possible outcome.

Books are available to purchase from Chana, RRP £24.99. Please call 020 8203 8455 or visit www.chana.org.uk