OUR YEAR REVIEW
What a year!
It’s been a year like no other but we are so proud of our achievements on behalf of all the members we support. We have gained many new members in the past year and attendance has shot up beyond expectations. The Friendship Circle family is growing fast and we could not have done this without the support of all our members, volunteers, supporters, and friends, who have played such an important role in creating this special and life changing support network for so many people.
The year started out cautiously with a variety of online activities and programmes keeping everyone connected. Our weekly zoom sessions inspired our members throughout the pandemic and many hundreds of activity packs brightened up dull days and dark nights. Moving forward we will continue to run many of our virtual programmes alongside our face-to face activities due to their popularity.
Our selfless volunteers are busier than ever before working tirelessly to support our members. Whether they are delivering packs, signing into online programmes or attending events, we couldn’t survive without them. The Buddy Programme continues to thrive and is a lifeline to many of our members, keeping them going during the pandemic.
Fruit displays for Tu Bishvat, parties at Purim and a mock seder for Pesach were some of the festivals we celebrated virtually at the beginning of the year. Packs bursting at the seams with goodies were delivered for Shavuot, Sukkot and Rosh Hashana. 2021 ended with a bang with the most incredible Chanukah ever! 8 days and nights of activities, at least once a day. This year’s Chanukah party, attended by over 100 people, was our best yet!
Our relationship with our friends at ‘The Shrubbs’ has continued to go from strength to strength. We kicked off January with a fabulous Talent Show which was swiftly followed a few weeks later by a virtual jam-packed Shabbaton weekend, commencing with a delicious challah bake and culminating with a musical Havdalah concert for 60 families.
August saw our members literally take-over Sunday Night Live interviewing a number of special guests for the show, and recently we joined forces with the Shrubbs on Mitzvah Day collecting for the homeless.
GETTING OUT and ABOUT
As the year progressed (and the Covid vaccinations rolled out) we were able to meet up face-to -face. Cinema, Bowling, Games Night, Mini Golf, Meals Out and Pub Nights were all added back into the calendar together with our much loved Drop-In on Tuesday afternoons. Art Club, Walking Group, Dance, Drumming, Yoga, and Current Affairs soon followed and our Teen Club programme is now more popular than ever. We were also incredibly happy to go back to Brookvale Care Home after 20 long months, enjoying our weekly session which we have missed so much.
Trip highlights included fantastic days out to Brockholes Nature Reserve, Anglesey, Chester Zoo, SEA LIFE & Blackpool, and the Ice Show Spectacular at The Trafford Centre.
A memorable first was an incredible day with The Speed of Sight where members had the opportunity to drive around a race track at top speed. Another first to shout about was an over-night trip to London for The Speaking Out Forum at Harrow School. Our Equal Voices Programme attracted some inspiring key note speakers, notably the Chief Rabbi and the Israeli Ambassador, whilst our Creative Writing Course went down a storm and got our creative juices flowing. Our brand new Monday night football team, The Maccabi Thunders blew away any remaining cobwebs and a new Table Tennis team is attracting a huge amount of interest.
A priority is our Employment & Training Programme launching in early spring. Working with The Focus Foundation, we will give members the opportunity to gain meaningful, valued jobs and helping them overcome any barriers to obtaining and maintaining employment.
We had to wait patiently until autumn to resume large gatherings and what better way to celebrate than a Friendship Circle Shabbat Meal with 130 friends and families. It was beyond special to share such a magical evening, and we were so thankful to be back together again. More and more families are hosting our members for Shabbat so everyone can experience the joy of this special day.
The Charity Extra Campaign was a turning point for The Friendship Circle raising over £375,000 in just 36 hours - a phenomenal achievement! We were truly humbled and grateful for the support and generosity we received from the entire Jewish community in Manchester and beyond.
In the run up to Chanukah we once again transformed our offices into a Pop-Up shop and are hugely thankful to Beauty Bay, Character World, Hunter Price, Regatta, RSW International, and Singleton Trading for donating brand new cosmetics, bedding, toys, coats and gifts for us to sell.
We also achieved success with a number of grants from Bury Council, Jewish Youth Fund, and The National Lottery which will enable more of our members to develop their skills, talent and confidence that will see them playing full and active rolls in society.
OUR GOALS this year
The funds raised from the Charity Extra Campaign will help ensure the continued provision of our essential services and secure the future of The Friendship Circle, allowing us to build on our existing projects and develop exciting new programmes for our members. Our main objective is to move to larger, more suitable premises in the next 12 – 18 months to enable us to achieve our goals.
Thank you again for making our vital work possible. We appreciate that there will be challenges along the way, especially in these uncertain times, however we are determined to offer our members the support they need to become the best possible version of themselves and we can’t wait to see what 2022 will bring.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year.
Esty, Mimi & The Friendship Circle Team