NGO: More families seeking financial advice

A year on from the social protests, limited employment options cause economic difficulties for English-speaking immigrants.

By
August 22, 2012 03:29
2 minute read.
New Israel immigrants ready to join IDF

New Israel immigrants ready to join IDF 370. (photo credit: Shahar Azran)

 
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One year after the mass social justice protests swept through the nation and despite various steps taken by the government to ease economic hardships, a nonprofit organization working with families struggling financially reported on Tuesday a sharp increase in those looking for advice and support.

“After last summer, I think people really began to assess their own living situation and many people felt it was no longer embarrassing to admit that they were struggling financially,” commented Tali Hayat, deputy director of NGO Pa’amonim told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview.

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Hayat said that the charity, which relies on a network of more than 2,000 volunteers countrywide that act as financial advisors or mentors to struggling families, has received more calls for help than ever before in its 10 year existence.

“There are so many people who have turned to us,” she said. “Many are young families, who are in a more precarious situation than their parents’ generation because nothing in their future is certain.”

According to Hayat, over the past year more than 7,000 families have joined the organization receiving personal mentors or participating in a group workshop.

That is compared to 4,500 families the previous year.

She also pointed out that the desperate actions earlier this summer of Haifa resident Moshe Silman, who set himself on fire in act of protest over state measures that led him to economic ruin, also prompted panic among some families.

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“People really began to feel a lack of stability in their lives and we received many calls from small business owners in distress,” said Hayat, adding that the organization is also expecting a surge of new families in need of advice following the forthcoming high holidays.

“Always after the religious festivals we see an increase in new people looking for help but this year we anticipate a huge rise,” she said, highlighting that despite some steps taken by the government – such as free education starting at age three and increasing competition in the cellphone market – most families are still not seeing an ease on their spending.

“Of course we think that the government needs to take more responsibility for helping the poor, but we also like to encourage families to take responsibility for their own finances,” she said.

As a result of the surge, Pa’amonim is now in desperate need of new volunteers, who receive a 6-week training course and guidance from more veteran volunteers, to work with the families. And, she said, the organization would like volunteers speaking different languages to help the immigrant community too.

English-speaking olim are not immune to financial hardships, said Hayat. For many, economic troubles start a few years after making aliya, when they no longer have the financial benefits of new immigrants and face limited employment options.

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