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Home Secretary Theresa May hears moving speech from Jewish care home resident

18:00 16 May 2014

Susan Schlaen (right) and Theresa May. Picture: Blake Ezra Photography Ltd 2014.

Susan Schlaen (right) and Theresa May. Picture: Blake Ezra Photography Ltd 2014.

© Blake Ezra Photography Ltd. 2014.

A care home resident helped raise £80,000 for charity with a moving speech to more than 200 people, including the Home Secretary Theresa May, about how the home has changed her life.

Susan Schlaen, 57, spoke about Sidney Corob House, run by Jewish Care, in Fortune Green Road, Fortune Green, at the charity’s 25th Women of Distinction fundraising lunch on Monday.

Ms May was guest of honour at the event and made a speech about the work being done to address the challenges faced by women in the workplace.

But it was Ms Schlaen who stole the show, reducing many in the audience to tears with an inspiring account of her battles with mental illness and the support provided by Sidney Corob House.

She said: “I’ve always wanted a home but never had one. I feel so much safer and more secure now. Sidney Corob is my home now. It has changed my life. It’s always busy at the home thanks to the money Women of Distinction raises.

“People come in to do lots of activities with us, like drama and music and then we go out for lunch, for pizza and for wonderful afternoon tea.”

Ms Schlaen, who revealed she is undergoing treatment for cancer, spoke about her 30-year struggle with depression and tumultuous periods spent in hospitals and care homes before finally finding peace at Sidney Corob House.

The annual lunch, held at the Institute of Directors, in Pall Mall, Westminster, raised a record-breaking £80,000 for the home, which supports Jewish adults with moderate to severe mental health issues.

Ms May handed out two awards at the event to women who have made a significant contribution to industry and society.

Camden Town resident Tessa Ross was presented with the 2014 Woman of Distinction Award for her contribution to film and the arts, having developed and financed movies such as Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years A Slave and This is England.

A Lifetime Achievement award was given to Dame Stephanie Shirley, a businesswoman-cum-philanthropist who arrived in Britain via the Kindertransport in 1939.

Lunch committee chairman Philippa Mintz, who lives in St John’s Wood, said: “Susan’s outstanding speech helped the guests understand the challenges that she and her fellow residents of Sidney Corob House face on a daily basis.

“With few dry eyes in the house she led us to raise a staggering £80,000.”

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