Tuesday, 24 February, 2015

Six Point Foundation was established in 2011 to help provide financial assistance to Holocaust survivors and refugees living in the UK. Communications and Grants Officer Renata McDonnell shares some of their moving stories of support.

'I simply do not know how to express my thanks and gratitude to you for helping me out with the massive service charges recently presented to me. I have had sleepless nights over how to meet this demand,' said a Holocaust survivor who received a grant from Six Point Foundation (SPF) to help with a large bill they were finding difficult to pay. 

As is the case with any group of people, there are some Holocaust survivors and refugees who struggle financially. However, with this particular group, some of the reasons behind cases of financial distress are directly related to their experiences of Nazi persecution. There are devastating and powerful stories about survivors and refugees who lost absolutely everything in the Holocaust – their families, their livelihoods, their possessions. Some managed to completely rebuild their lives, going on to achieve great successes, and these are the stories perhaps more often heard. Yet many survivors and refugees did not recover from the trauma, lost years of education and physical suffering they endured under persecution by the Nazis. Their financial situation today can be a reminder of the life-changing impact the Holocaust has had on them.

SPF is an organisation established to help these survivors. Since 2011 they have provided £500,000 in grants to support struggling survivors and refugees. One survivor, who was hiding from the Nazis at a very young age and in extremely damp conditions, suffered from problems with lung development issues, which worsened to a stage where the only chance of survival was to receive a lung transplant abroad. SPF has been able to support the individual with the overwhelming medical bills.

The organisation has also supported a London-based survivor couple to attend a grandchild’s wedding in America. A grant from the SPF was awarded for flight tickets and travel insurance so that the couple could join their family for the celebrations abroad. Support Worker Shaindy Schreiber said:

‘They had not been abroad for a very long time due to their health situation. [But] they felt they were in a position where they would be fit to travel and […] see their grandchildren who they never get a chance to see.’

The Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire was also awarded £90,000 by SPF to support more than 100 survivors to share their testimony with thousands of children and adults each year. The grant helps staff to deal with financial barriers survivors face in visiting the centre as they become older and frailer, such as higher costs of travel and care. It also helps to sustain and extend staff support time, ensuring regular contact for all survivors linked to the centre. Meanwhile, it enables survivors to come together for mutual support by running a small number of group events each year.

The Holocaust Centre said: ‘The support of SPF is really valued. We have been able to help more survivors to travel to the centre, both to share their testimony and join events. This means a great deal to them personally, particularly when sharing their life stories can have such an impact on young people.’

Before it closes within the next two to three years, Six Point Foundation aims to reach and help as many Holocaust survivors and refugees as possible. You can find out more by about SPF and the support they can give by visiting their website.

The HMDT blog highlights topics relevant to our work in Holocaust and genocide education and commemoration. We hear from a variety of guest contributors who provide a range of personal perspectives on issues relevant to them, including those who have experienced state-sponsored persecution and genocide. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HMDT.