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Supporting Gesher Primary School

Supporting Gesher Primary School

Paramount are supporting a different charity each month throughout 2016. March’s charity is Gesher, a special needs primary school. 

It was great to be able to get involved with the Paramount Collective and assist with some of the charity work the company has been involved with. 

I am raising awareness and funding for Gesher, a special needs primary school that my sister-in-law is in the process of setting up and which is due to open September 2017. There are 35 Jewish primary schools in London, however none of these schools cater for autistic primary aged children (aged 4-11). 

Gesher has worked very hard for two years to remedy this shortcoming. The behind the scenes work that has been done to date is truly phenomenal and inspiring and has only become a reality due to several philanthropic benefactors already taking this project to its current level. The objective is to have small classes of eight children (with three teachers for each class) in seven classes (56 children overall). They have identified 600+ children in the community who would benefit from this specialist school, have a suitable site in place and now need £1m to create this much needed facility.  To date they have raised £400k and are in positive dialogue with a number of foundations and benefactors to secure the remaining funds.  

My family has been directly impacted since my son Rocco was diagnosed with autism aged four. I am lucky in that he is mildly autistic but I had to fight my local authority for over two years to provide us with the requisite funding and parental/teaching assistance to keep Rocco in mainstream education. The process was time consuming, expensive and at times intrusive to get him the assistance he needs on a day-to-day basis. This new school comes too late for me but will greatly assist more severely autistic children in years to come.

As part of the fundraising initiative I arranged a “Pretty in Pink” Friday where staff were encouraged to wear pink or something floral. Everyone in the office paid to take part and Dani Davey and Spencer Lawrence won joint first prize with their outfits. 

However my favourite fundraising event this month was a charity 5-a-side football that was held last night. We pitted sales against lettings and management and my son Rocco played the whole match too.

Mark Durban

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