Orphanage-leavers still need our help

Vlad, an orphanage-leaver, takes part in summer camp in the forest.

Vlad started coming to our support group for orphanage-leavers in St Petersburg a year ago with his friend, Boris. From the start he engaged really well with all the activities. Our colleagues invited him to take part in the summer camp, which he did with enthusiasm. Again, he took part in everything, was very helpful and was very open in all discussions.

Vlad knew that he could stay in touch over the summer. A few weeks after the camp, our colleagues got a call from him to say that he was moving out into his own flat. He said, “Everything’s fine. I just walk around and admire my place.” Over the next few weeks he kept in touch and was looking forward to restarting the group sessions in September.

So when September came, it was a surprise to our colleagues when Vlad didn’t appear and stopped taking calls. They got in touch with his college, who said that everything was fine and that he was going to classes and living at their hostel now.

Eventually, our colleagues managed to make direct contact. Vlad told them that he was living at the hostel and couldn’t come to the group because he now had something on on Fridays. He also said, “I don’t live at my flat anymore. A friend lives there. He’s wrecked it and now it needs repairing.” It turns out that a social worker at his college had advised him to rent out his flat and move back to the hostel. It was very convenient for him. He didn’t have to worry about cooking or budgeting and there was always something fun going on. On the other hand, he was making a loss on letting his flat. His friend wasn’t paying rent and was running up debts on his utilities and had damaged the place. Vlad was upset and realised he had made a mistake, but he was too ashamed to ask for advice. Now he back as a member of the group. For the moment, his motivation to live independently has gone, but he continues to be supported. Next time he should have better advice and be equipped to make better decisions.