News

Astonishing, but true story of a family hit three times by hearing loss.

Fedya in the toy bed
Fedya

Our Club for young children with hearing loss can be a huge support for families. Over the last year and a half they have been helping a family with a scarcely believable story.

Nearly a year and a half ago a mother came to our Club for the first time with her little boy, Slava, who had a Cochlear Implant (which can help profoundly deaf people perceive sounds). She was heavily pregnant, so after the first visit Slava would come with his grandmother. Continue reading Astonishing, but true story of a family hit three times by hearing loss.

Life changed in so many ways for this orphanage-leaver.

LenaLena grew up in an orphanage in St Petersburg.  She joined Sunflower’s support programme two years ago after she split up with her boyfriend.  She had realised that she was getting tetchy and tearful and was going out drinking more often.  At around this time, Lena lost two fingers in an industrial accident.  Her then boyfriend didn’t visit her in hospital, and this was when she decided to end their strained relationship. Not knowing how to live alone, she said, “I didn’t just lose myself, but my home too.  I would do nothing but work, even putting in extra shifts just to avoid having to think about anything.” Continue reading Life changed in so many ways for this orphanage-leaver.

St Gregory’s Christmas newsletter is out now

Christmas newsletter - front page

Our Christmas newsletter is out now.  Download it to read about Lena’s struggles to overcome relationship difficulties, an accident at work and the temptation of escaping into alcohol.  Our Christmas appeal is to help orphanage-leavers like Lena build a stable adult life.

We also have

  • a lovely thank you letter from a young girl who took part in the summer activities you helped fund in Kondopoga;
  • an ingenious solution to problems some Russian families with severely disabled children face;
  • news of events and ways of getting involved with St Gregory’s;
  • Volunteer opportunities for 2020 in St Petersburg;
  • Offline order details for our Christmas cards.

Improving lives and neighbourhoods

ParkhWe love a win win solution and that is what SGF partner organization, Mkurnali was able to create recently in their own neighbourhood.   Rather than choosing between a troubled teenager and the community he was disrupting, Mkurnali has been able to improve life for everyone.

Parkhat is a neighbour of Mkurnali’s.  He came from an Azerbaidzhani family who settled in Tbilisi.  He is 15 and a half years old and has been growing up without his mother.  She left him and his father and went off with another man after finding that her husband had cancer. Parkhat’s father is a good, hardworking and honest man and it is terribly sad that he is ill and does not have anyone to help him. He is unable to look after Parkhat whose behaviour became much worse after his mother left them.  Continue reading Improving lives and neighbourhoods

Announcing St Gregory’s AGM

We warmly invite you to attend our Annual General Meeting on Monday 10th June at 6pm.
This is your opportunity to meet your fellow supporters, give the Board your feedback and appoint the directors for the coming year.  As well as formal business (please see attached) we are hoping that the occasion will also provide an opportunity to discuss how the charity can continue to develop and we look forward to hearing your views. There will also be free light refreshments.  If you are not a member and would like to vote at the AGM, please join us before the meeting.
The meeting will take place at 68 Ambrosden Avenue, Westminster, London SW1P 1QG courtesy of Mrs Tania Illingworth, SGF Director.
The charity can only continue with your ongoing support so we hope you’ll be able to attend our AGM and we look forward to seeing you. For any further queries please email: julia-sgf@outlook.com or call 0203 372 4992.
Yours sincerely,
Julia Ashmore,
Executive Secretary

Mother’s Day inspiration from Sunflower

Timur finds it difficult to play
The session leader attracts Timur’s attention
Timur enjoys playing with his mother, who takes a more active role.

Dilyana grew up in a family and works as a teacher.  So why does she need Sunflower’s help to raise her 3-year-old son, Timur?

Families can take part in the Sunflower programme whether one or both parents grew up in an orphanage.  In this case, it is Timur’s father, Sasha, who had the orphanage childhood.  Indeed, he is the pride of his children’s home and still works there to this day.  Although on the surface, this family look as if they are coping well, Sunflower’s experience teaches them to pay particular attention to the way children are treated in families such as this.  As they put it, in families where a woman marries a man who grew up in an orphanage, it is “as if her social skills and understanding of safety are somehow blocked.  The woman from the stable background often submits to her husband’s initiative, and observes his rules, which were laid down in his children’s home past.” Continue reading Mother’s Day inspiration from Sunflower

Preventing abuse on Women’s Day and through the year

VeraWomen who grew up in children’s homes are very vulnerable to all kinds of domestic abuse and exploitation.  Our partners at Sunflower work a great deal on what a healthy, trusting relationship looks like.  They also support any of the young women in their group who find themselves in relationships that worry them.

Today, on International Women’s Day, we are proud to share Vera’s story with you.  She has shown great strength in recognising she was being treated badly and in standing up for herself.  Thanks to you, Sunflower has been able to support her as she makes sense of what happened to her.

“Vera moved out of her children’s home into a flat this September, but she has been a member of our project for 3 years.  We helped her prepare for the big move, and we knew that she was anxious about going it alone.  At first it seemed as if all was going well.  Vera furnished her flat, found out how to pay her bills, and was enjoying inviting her friends over to her new place.

After a while, Vera admitted to us that she wasn’t living alone.  She was living with her boyfriend, who had helped her choose her furniture and doing minor repairs to the flat etc.  It was very important to her that she had someone she could rely on.

It wasn’t long before Vera told the support group that she and her boyfriend argued from time to time.  Apparently he said that she “spent too much time with her friends and should only see him.”  After one of their arguments, he shouted at her and made a swing at her.  Vera immediately broke it off with him and asked him to leave the flat.  Before he left he broke her phone, stole anything of value as “payment” for the repairs he had done, and cut up her bank cards.

Vera was frightened and didn’t know what to do, so she turned again to us.  With our detailed instructions, she was able to report the theft to the police.  She still felt humiliated and confused, but has been working through those feelings in individual counselling and group support sessions.  Now she can value the positive relationships she has managed to build with friends, but will also be more careful about who she lets into her life.

“I don’t think I would ever be able to trust another guy if I hadn’t had this support.  Now I realise that everyone isn’t like him, but I will be more careful about who I choose.””

The young people that Sunflower supports all grew up in orphanages.  They learn to value themselves and to recognise their emotional needs.  They always have someone to turn to who will help them see situations objectively and they are able to build genuinely supportive relationships with their peers through our support groups.  By supporting these groups you are helping break the cycle of domestic abuse.

Our winter newsletter

Front page of the SGF newsletter Our winter newsletter is out now with more in depth stories of the people that we are able to help thanks to our wonderful, generous supporters.

Find out

  • how Sunflower helped Natasha adjust to life after the children’s home,
  • how Mkurnali are supporting Luka’s family so he doesn’t have to put himself at risk working on the streets,
  • and how Elya is overcoming disability to feed herself for the first time aged 19, and more.