The Covid-Connect project provides emotional wellbeing support for vulnerable Orthodox Jewish girls, age nine to 16 living in Stamford Hill, Hackney.

Sunbeams project delivering arts and crafts activities to young people

Sunbeams London established the project as a direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising mental health issues that were evident in young girls who have faced bereavement and social isolation leading to anxiety and low-mood throughout the pandemic. The project addresses issues like bereavement, poor mental health or social difficulties and provides opportunity for participants to share experiences and build social skills, emotional resilience, and healthy relationships.

The Orthodox Jewish community in the UK has been disproportionately impacted by infection and mortality rates relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many participants have experienced bereavement of a close family member during the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to the tradition of living in inter-generational homes and younger members having caring responsibilities for older generations, these bereavements have been very prominent events in their lives.

Sunbeams London are not only providing their own support but have used their position in the community to begin to build better relationships with local healthcare services and schools. They are continuing to work with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to improve understanding of the Orthodox Jewish community within their services so that more young people can feel comfortable to access support.

The overall aim of Covid-Connect is to support project participants to be able to leave their services feeling more confident about managing their emotional health and wellbeing. They regularly measure impact and are already starting to see progress with 40% of participants showing significant progress in feeling more able to cope with difficult emotions.

Lots of young people in our community have found it difficult to seek support for poor mental health. In the Orthodox Jewish community there is also a hesitancy to get referred to CAMHS due to the stigma surrounding mental health and a lack of understanding around the specific needs of the Orthodox Jewish community.

Yenti Friedmann

Project Lead

Funded through People’s Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery London East