In a pivotal change to traditionally large fundraising dinners The Fed held seven Dinners With A Difference, over seven nights between 10 and 19 May, at local venues on either side of the city – Shaare Hayim Synagogue in Hale Barns and Whitefield Golf Club.

A total of more than 500 guests attended the combined events, including 100 younger donors, associated with the charity’s ‘Next Gen’ project.

£600,000 of essential funding was raised towards our annual £1.9 million voluntary income target.

Each night saw a different combination of seven speakers – five service-users and two volunteers – whose powerful stories moved many to tears and one in particular – Mindy Beenstock – drawing a standing ovation on two consecutive nights following her speech about the tremendous ongoing challenges of caring for her, now adult, son who is on the autistic spectrum. She explained how The Fed’s intervention had saved her sanity, and how its workers continue to support her as her family face a life-changing crisis.

Other speakers included volunteers, Michael Goldman and Howard Sternberg, and service-users: Elayne Halpern, Ruth and Mark Jackson, Rabbi Benjy Rickman, and Belinda Rich, all of whom care for one or more child with additional needs and are receiving support from The Fed or have done so in recent years.

All seven speeches can be heard in full on The Fed’s YouTube channel.

Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications, Raphi Bloom said,

“We’re delighted with the outcome of the dinners. What we raised over the last two weeks will go a long way to help guarantee the continuation of our services over the coming year – services which are used by one in seven Greater Manchester Jewish homes. That’s over 6,500 people benefiting from our support – people living in the community, and frail, vulnerable older people receiving wonderful, loving care at Heathlands Village.

We can be confident that this community’s safety net will remain strong – so that people in need of all ages, with all manner of social care issues have somewhere to turn.”

He added,

“Those who attended were unanimous in their preference for our new-style smaller dinners. They loved the intimacy, the lack of formality and not having to travel as far to a large central venue. There’s no doubt that this was much, much harder work for our fundraising and marketing teams, but the dividends were indisputable with a massive 25% reduction in event costs.

“And guests were blown away by our speakers and in awe of their courage in sharing such personal details with a roomful of strangers. We are indebted to each and every one of them for letting people into their lives and helping us convey the importance of our work, and why supporting us financially, and in terms of volunteering, is crucial.”