To charge or not to charge?

We’ve decided to charge – for the time being.

I received board approval a few months ago to establish a training arm of Jewish Women’s Aid. This falls under the remit of my role, which is to raise awareness of Jewish Women’s Aid and domestic violence in the Jewish community.

Rather than continuing only to give talks to community and synagogue groups, it became apparent that awareness-raising would have more impact if I provided training for relevant professionals. Training usually comprises a half-day course providing delegates with a tool kit and enabling them to provide better support and signposting to women and children affected by domestic violence.

The courses have been well received and have attracted teachers, counsellors, police personnel, nurses, and informal educators.

The problem, as I indicated above, was to charge or not. Discussions went back and forth. In support of charging were the arguments that delegates value training which they pay for, that it would bring in some much needed funds to the organisation and that it would cover the cost of any resources needed.

Arguments against were that charging would decrease the number of delegates because all training budgets have been slashed, that charging is generally a deterrent in this sector where free training is sometimes available and that we could probably afford to provide this service free of charge for a time.

And so it went on. In the end, we decided to charge a minimal amount, with the caveat that no delegate would be turned away from a course because they couldn’t pay. To date the charge hasn’t elicited a comment from any delegate, although one or two have asked for a reduction in the cost, which I have of course given them.  Some organisations have requested bespoke internal training, for which we’ve requested a financial contribution rather than charging at market rate.

The point, really, throughout the whole exercise, has been to keep in mind that the purpose of our courses is to raise awareness of our organisation and to ensure that women who need support are able to get it – either directly from us or from someone trained by us.

With that in mind, the courses have been a huge success – delegates have not only given  positive feedback but also gone on to provide good, solid advice and support to women affected by domestic violence.  We have had new clients referred to us, and course delegates have become ambassadors for Jewish Women’s Aid. For us, it has been well worth keeping course prices low.

Naomi Dickson is a community awareness co-ordinator at Jewish Women’s Aid