Esther’s story

Esther recently got divorced and has seven children to look after, two of whom have additional needs. The youngest is four-years-old and the oldest is fifteen.

Esther told us how she begins each month with a certain amount of money and doesn’t always know if there will be enough to get through the end of the month.

There have been times when she has not been able to buy food for her children and times when she has had to call friends to say she can’t feed her family.

Fortunately, when Esther joined Ahavat Yisrael United Synagogue, friendly members there recognised the difficulty she was in and arranged for her to receive weekly food packages through US Chesed. The bags contain fresh items including cheese, fruit and vegetables, store cupboard items like pasta and tuna and household items such as cleaning products.

Here’s what she told us when we met her in her home last week:

“Wednesdays are such a relief. I struggle to get to the end of the week having to support my seven children.  The food parcels also act as a support group – it’s reassuring to see the same friendly face every week and know that there’s someone out there looking after me. I’ve developed a really nice relationship with the volunteer. I can’t tell you what it’s like knowing they will be there and that I don’t have to worry about supper that night.

“It’s not easy living on your own with seven children and I am so grateful to US Chesed and my community – Ahavat Yisrael – who support me. It’s a really family-focused shul.

“I probably wouldn’t have enough money to last until the end of the month if I had to buy it all myself. The ready-cooked meals enable me to focus on the children as I don’t have to stand and cook on Wednesdays.

“Two of my children are vulnerable – one has extreme anxiety and the other has autism – so the meals mean I can spend time with then. It can be hard to attend to their needs.

“I do have support from other organisations in the Jewish community and from KIND, a Jewish group which helps people in need from divorced families. This has made life a lot easier.

“People should never feel a burden – Chesed organisations want to help: that’s what they stand for. No-one should ever feel like they can’t ask for help. You might initially feel uncomfortable reaching out but it will make life easier for you. It took me years and years. I’m a very shy person but looking back I’m so glad I asked for help. My parents are amazed that such things exist!

“Even though it was so hard for me, I did it for my children because the help I now receive gives them a functional mother which is what they need and deserve.

“I hope people will see how amazing US Chesed is and how much it’s needed. Unfortunately in this day and age so many people need help. Everybody donating should know that their donation is having a massive impact and making a huge difference to someone’s life. Your money is going very far. It really is the difference between whether someone can buy a bag of pasta or not or whether they can get to the end of the month or not.”

“I’ve had months where I haven’t had enough food for my children. Thank God so many people are out there to help. I have had to call friends and say I can’t feed my family. The emotional impact on you not knowing how to feed your family causes a tremendous amount of stress. I don’t function as well,  worrying how I am going to support my children.

“Kids always have extra needs – how can you turn around to a child who already has to deal with so much and say “sorry I can’t afford that”? It’s heartbreaking. My older children understand what’s going on but my younger ones don’t. I tell them I’ll sort it out – but will I be able to though? It’s hard to say no to kids nowadays – they see that their friends have certain things and wonder why they can’t have it. It’s not about giving them expensive presents, it’s about them seeing their friend go to gymnastics and knowing that they can’t.

“People should understand that the cost of living has gone up, wages have not kept pace and rent has skyrocketed. Local authority housing allowance does not match that.

“People should give as much as they can and feel proud to support such endeavours because it’s really helping and having a massive impact on families who need it.

“People should read this and want to donate to US Chesed to meet the target. I can’t donate myself but I can pay back by telling my story and encouraging other people to give. I don’t know how to put it but I want to say thank you for supporting US Chesed: your donation will help in so many ways.”

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We are sharing Esther’s story and personal details with permission.

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