(Credit: Jason Andrews)
More than six hundred Kisharon supporters gathered at London’s Hilton Park Lane on Sunday 19th May for the charity’s 2019 fundraising dinner, ‘Together We Grow.  Among the attendees joining Kisharon Trustees Leo Noe and Andrew Loftus and guests were H.E. Ambassador Mark Regev, Lord Feldman, Jonathan Goldstein, Marie van der Zyl, Lord and Lady Kestenbaum, and Rabbi Eli and Lauren Levin.

The guests displayed exceptional generosity, donating almost £1m towards the £2.3m the charity requires to fund the running of its day-to-day services annually. The charity depends on this contribution from the community, which is especially crucial given the current social care funding crisis.

Introducing the annual appeal video, Kisharon School pupil Tali Rose, 12, said: “This is all about the things that matter to everyone at Kisharon. I want them to matter to you too.”

New Chief Executive Richard Franklin, in his first address to Kisharon supporters since being appointed to the role, spoke of his goal to realise the full potential of the people Kisharon supports. “The pinnacle of our endeavours is the emancipation and freedom of others,” he said, emphasising the theme of the evening when he said: “Other growth is inextricably linked to the growth of others – so that together we grow.” “I see a world which we will change – where every person in this room will not think twice about employing a person with a learning disability,” he added. Franklin also announced the development of six more supported living units in Golders Green and the start of negotiations with the Tiferes Yisroel Community to further extend the charity’s reach in the Supported Living sector.

Gai Ben Dor, Founder and CEO of 180⁰ Sport – a social organisation aimed at empowering and advancing people with disabilities through sports, was the guest speaker at the event, where he recounted his decision to set up the social enterprise. After he and his father saw an online advert calling for “a runner with soul” they decided to guide a blind person through the immense challenge of completing the Paralympic marathon, and later to climb Mount Everest. Their experience, Ben Dor told Kisharon supporters, inspired them to set up 180⁰ Sport dedicated to achieving the empowerment and social integration of people with disabilities. “A person who strives for excellence is never satisfied with his achievements. He always strives for the next goal,” he said. Speaking of his experiences supporting people with disabilities, he added: “I’ve learned the most important things in life – to be human, not to feel pity, but to look people in the eye and focus on your shared human experiences.”

“I strive to create a better world, a world of inclusiveness and diversity and where we never give up on our individual dreams,” he concluded.

Proposing the toast to the President and the State of Israel, H.E. Ambassador Mark Regev took a few moments to praise Kisharon “which cares for our most vulnerable, those who have grown up with disabilities and challenges”. Calling for the staff and volunteers from the charity to “pat themselves on the back”, he invoked the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘Kisharon’, or ‘talent’: “That is a Jewish thing. Everyone has a talent and can achieve their potential,” he said.

Kisharon Chairman Philip Goldberg thanked supporters for attending, as well as for their “amazing generosity which allows us to continue providing for the special people we all care for”.

Dinner Chairs Adam and Emma Castleton, welcoming guests at the start of the dinner, said: “Kisharon is a place where people from all parts of the community come together in support of what truly matters – support for children and young adults with learning disabilities.” Praising the charity for its growth, which they said was a product of its “outward-looking” focus, they added that it was “wonderful to witness the charity’s incredible journey”.

Also present on the night were people Kisharon supports including Eli Cohen and Chaim Dovid Rotenberg, who were integral to the programme, making hamotzi and benching for guests, and Tali Rose who introduced Chief Executive Richard Franklin and the appeal film.