(photo credit: Courtesy)
An Orthodox Jewish-run charity is to become the first UK crisis line run by counselors trained to cater for the specific needs of both Jewish and Muslim communities, after receiving government funding.
Drugsline was set up by Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin in 1991 and offers non-denominational crisis support. This week the charity received a grant from the London Borough of Redbridge to expand its services.
Following a recent report on drug use in the Muslim community, entitled "Combating Stigma: Drug use among the Muslim Communities in London," Sufrin recognized that the Jewish and Muslim communities share many of the same cultural taboos about drugs.
He set about establishing the "Joining the Loop" partnership with Imam Haroon Rashid Patel, from local Muslim group QALB, a day center for people with mental health issues, and the League of British Muslims, which provides advice to local Asian residents.
The funding award will enable Drugsline to provide help and services in the Gujarati, Benagli and Urdu languages and offer members of diverse communities training and development opportunities.
"I am delighted that this interfaith project is now able to go ahead," Sufrin said. "Drugsline has over 15 years experience of dealing with drugs and alcohol addiction issues and this proposed partnership will not only add value to Drugsline's existing work, but it will also enable us to provide bespoke services to parts of the community where drugs and alcohol addiction are often taboo, and little or no support is offered."
Counselor Alan Weinberg, leader of Redbridge Council, played a vital role in supporting the Partnership.
"The Redbridge community is both culturally and religiously diverse, and as well as celebrating this, we must also recognize the associated issues, that some communities require tailored support," said Weinberg. "This partnership is an exemplary model of what is possible when communities come together in union, while simultaneously serving their community in a sensitive and appropriate manner. On behalf of Redbridge council, I am delighted to be involved in such a project."
Patel said he thanked "Redbridge Council for understanding the needs of our community and providing us with the funding to enable us to work with Drugsline to combat drug and alcohol addiction in the Muslim and wider community."