Camp Simcha brought Shabbos in a Box to 450 family members this weekend helping to relieve some of the pressures of having a child with a serious illness.

On Thursday families the charity supports, in London, Manchester and Gateshead, received a box full of everything they would need for Shabbos, from Kiddush sets to books, activities, nosh and pampering treats  – with meals sent for Friday night, Shabbos lunch and Motzsei Shabbos.

Parents were also invited to join a zoom talk on Thursday evening with Rabbi Zimmer man and an interactive supper quiz on Motzsei Shabbos.

Camp Simcha Head of Services Daniel Gillis explained that the purpose of Shabbos in a Box was manifold.

“Of course it is a treat for families and a boost for the children, but the impact in terms of respite is huge. We support families with a wide range of conditions; some have children who are constantly in and out of hospital, others need 24/7 care, we have other children with such complex dietary needs that the burden of preparing food for them is incredibly hard. For many, spending time together as a whole family does not happen very often and we had several families where mother and child had been in hospital for lengthy stays and were only discharged a few hours before Shabbos. They returned home to their families with everything there for them.

“To have all the pressure taken off them in terms of preparing for Shabbos so that they can just focus on time together as a family, having fun and making memories, really makes a big difference to parents’ and children’s emotional well-being.”

Camp Simcha parent Shellie Lester’s son Yitzi has a severe gastro-intestinal condition.

“Doctors have, as yet, been unable to fully diagnose what causes it but when he has a severe flare-up, it impacts his organs and his body shuts down. He has many food and environmental allergies, so he is on a strict daily diet to avoid triggers but unfortunately he can still end up in hospital when it gets very bad. He also has endoscopies every couple of months and a lot of doctors appointments.

Mrs Lester has four other children – all aged under 12, the oldest having a physical disability.

“Yitzi was well this Shabbos so it was wonderful to have that time where we could be with all the children; no rushing to get ready and everything thought of. Camp Simcha do so much to support us when Yitzi is unwell but this was such a special time to enjoy together – not to mention the excitement when the boxes arrived!”