Outreach to care-leavers in troubled suburb

Family in Lensovietsky

Lensovietsky is a new suburb of St Petersburg, which has become a “settlement of orphanage-leavers”. Its crime-rate and anti-social behaviour make it notorious. There is loud music, conflicts, fights, etc round the clock. Police raids and visits by social services have become the norm district. Understandable, orphanage-leavers are not popular with other residents. Quite apart from their antisocial lifestyle, they have run up debts for heating and water supply, and residents have complained about the disconnection of such necessary services. The infrastructure – medical, educational, social institutions – in the residential district is still underdeveloped. For leavers, this has become one of the main obstacles to their integration into society.

This is the context for a new class our partners, Sunflower, have set up this year for families in crisis with children under 5.

Angela joined the group with her three children. Expecting her fourth child, Angela looked tired and worn out. Emotionally, she reacted little to her children and did not talk to them at all. She only answered when they asked her something. Angela often felt angry with them, especially with the eldest child, Misha.

Observing Misha, it was noticeable how he immediately became a very dependent child. When he was with his mother, he showed the behaviour of a two to three-year-old child. When adults tried to interact with him, Misha barely listened. When his mother failed to pay attention to him, he eagerly tried to get it.

Dima, the middle child, is very anxious. When it was time for his mother to go to classes in the parent group, he wouldn’t let her go and became hysterical. The third child is Amina. She is behind in her physical development. When spoken to, she did not try to stand up and kept playing alone, there was a feeling that this was her natural state.

Thanks to these classes, Angela has started to seek help from professionals herself. She listened and is working hard to keep Dima in the group. She has also finally placed Misha in a nursery. There is a lot more to do to help this family but the work has started and the progress is visible.