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Responding to the ‘new normal’

Shot of the Holocaust exhibition

Since March 2020 the world in which we live has changed beyond recognition. It’s been tragic on a personal level for so many people, yet even those unaffected by illness have had to give up freedoms we normally take for granted. The situation has brought unprecedented challenges for all kinds of business, but particularly for charities.

The Institute of Fundraising has reported that 84% of UK charities have experienced a decrease or significant decrease in their income, and 94% have reported a fall in trading income during lockdown. The HSFA is no exception. We’ve been fortunate in some respects – our existing grant income from funders including The Association of Jewish Refugees, the Pears Foundation and the Rothschild Foundation, is secure and we are grateful to them for their support and reassurance – but our earned income and day-to-day fundraising activities have been dramatically reduced. The Holocaust Exhibition & Learning Centre has been closed since 17 March and we’ve had to cancel all our income-earning activities including school visits, group bookings and events. Holocaust survivors can no longer give their talks in schools or at the Centre in Huddersfield. The income we raise from all these activities is critical to our small charity as it represents unrestricted funds that we can use to cover core costs. We also rely on on-site donations from visitors and run an annual fundraising dinner which can’t happen when the site is closed.

Survivor Iby Knill signs copies of her autobiography after giving a talk at the Centre last year

Support for members

As a membership organisation, we’ve also experienced increased need for the community support we offer to Holocaust survivors and refugees. Most of our members have been shielding since March due to their age and existing health conditions. Our support worker, Tracy, has been doing excellent work supporting people with shopping, medicines, appointments, and moral support, aided by volunteers Barbara and Vanessa and regular supplies of homemade cake.

Support worker Tracy delivers homemade cake to survivors in lockdown

We’ve been extremely fortunate to have had no cases of Covid-19 within our survivor membership. However, the situation has brought back traumatic memories for many people and we are only too aware of the ongoing risk to their health and wellbeing as lockdown measures ease. It’s also clear that measures such as social distancing, limited public gatherings and potentially localised lockdowns will continue for the foreseeable future.

So, how do we respond to the ‘new normal’?

Reshaping our offer

The team at the Holocaust Exhibition & Learning Centre are working hard to reshape our existing offer and create new resources to meet schools’ and individuals’ changing needs. We will be relaunching our learning programme in September with a mixture of on-site sessions at the exhibition, outreach that we’ll deliver in schools, and a new remote learning option for schools that we’ll deliver online. Our Learning Manager has summarised the thinking behind the new approach, and we’ll update with further information over the summer.

We’ve been experimenting with online events, with more to come – our first webinar was hosted with Dr Paula Cowan and Professor Henry Maitles from the University of Western Scotland and focused on teaching about antisemitism in the classroom. We followed that with a talk from Professor Bill Niven and Amy Williams at Nottingham Trent University on the history and memory of the Kindertransport. Keep an eye on our events page for more – we’re planning an online talk with Professor Wendy Webster from the University of Huddersfield about the British response to migrants and refugees in the 1930s and ’40s, and an event with the UCL Department of German about their project ‘Compromised Identities’ which reflects on perpetration and complicity during the Holocaust. We’ll get these events open for booking as soon as we can.

We’re also working hard behind the scenes on a number of partnership projects including with the Wiener Holocaust Library in London and the Imperial War Museum‘s Second World War and the Holocaust Partnership Project, a national partnership connected to the redevelopment of new gallery spaces at the museum. We are in the early stages with both of these pieces of work, and they’ve both had to be reshaped due to the pandemic, but we’ll be back with further information in the next few months.

Finally, we’re planning for the re-opening of our Exhibition and Learning Centre on site at the University of Huddersfield. We’re putting in place additional health and safety and hygiene precautions so that visitors can come to us in full confidence that our spaces are as safe as they can possibly be. Of course this means that our costs have escalated at the same time as our income has reduced.

How you can help 

Obviously fundraising is a key priority. We’re working on bids to a number of different funders and aiming to secure funds to enable us to reopen and respond. We need funds both to make up for the loss of core income and to cover new costs, such as equipment and consumables on site, technology to enable us to keep in touch with survivors and refugees,

We are very aware that some individuals and families have struggled financially during the pandemic, but if you could consider supporting us, please consider any of the following ideas:

  • We’re grateful for any donations, no matter what scale. It’s easy to donate to HSFA via our JustGiving page which also collects Gift Aid on our behalf. We also have a HSFA Standing Order letter which you can download to enable regular donations.
  • Sometimes people on furlough or working from home have made savings on their daily expenses. Perhaps you could donate the price of your daily takeaway coffee, or a proportion of what you’ve saved in parking fees.
  • Are you working towards a fitness goal? Maybe you’ve got into running or cycling and you’re planning to enter a challenge next year. We’d love to hear from anyone interested in fundraising for HSFA through doing a run, walk, cycle, climb or any other challenge – it’s easy to do this through JustGiving or any of the similar fundraising platforms.
  • Please contact us if you are considering a larger donation and are interested in joining our Patrons scheme or leaving a legacy or bequest.

All donations are used directly to support our charitable aims which are to provide friendship and support to Holocaust survivors and refugees, and to educate the public about the history and ongoing relevance of the Holocaust. We are grateful for your support.