News

Parent praises Deaf Club

At first sight, it might seem as if not much is happening at the Deaf Club we sponsor in St Petersburg. Children play, parents chat. They get together for a sing-song and a chat. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, but something extraordinary is happening. Parents are gaining confidence, and children are learning new skills, skills they might not have had a chance to develop so early or so well because they are deaf.

Recently, the Deaf Club surveyed it’s parents. Grisha’s mum, Anastasia, responses show us just what the Club means to families.

What does visiting our club give you?

We go to the Club with our 2-year-old son Grisha. Coming to the Club with my child, I feel calm. I learn a lot bout child development. I can also talk to other parents and discuss problems. Grisha has the opportunity to socialize from an early age, being with both children and adults in the same place.

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Mkurnali wins vital healthcare for a former resident

This crumpled mess was all that was left of the car Eka was travelling in, when it was hit by a trailer moving on the opposite side of the road. The car overturned and fell off the side of the road. The other driver, thinking that everyone in it was dead, fled the scene. Eka was a former resident at Mkurnali‘s homeless shelter in Tbilisi, Georgia. Without Mkurnali’s legal help, she would never have won the compensation she so desperately needed to pay for her healthcare after the accident.

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Communication Space make communicating worthwhile

When talking comes easily to you, it’s hard to imagine finding it so boring, you just can’t be bothered. However, until Pavel started sessions at Communication Space, boredom was seriously holding him back.

Up until last year, Pavel had taken part in various programmes to help him communicate. These even included using alternative communication, since he doesn’t talk. However, the same pattern would emerge each time. He would learn some simple symbols, they would enter his vocabulary, but then he would get bored and stop using them. He was getting quite disengaged with the whole thing until Communication Space tried a new approach.

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Exciting trip for Kondopoga’s children

Recently, the Kondopoga parish fulfilled an ambition to take the older children to visit Staraya Ladoga, the first capital of Russia. Despite hitting a snow storm as they travelled south from Kondopoga, they managed to get there and back in a day, and to see the highlights of this ancient town.
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Our Christmas appeal – a chance to help Ana

This year our Christmas appeal is in aid of The Wish, a Moldovan charity that is providing rare community support for children with disabilities in Moldova.

Ana’s story

Ana is eleven now, and she has been coming to The Wish since she was five.  Ana had a difficult start in life.  She used to live in the countryside with her mother, who is disabled, and her grandfather.  After her grandfather died her mother couldn’t cope financially or practically.  Fortunately, the wider family were able to help and Ana now lives in Călărași with her aunt.

Ana also has Down syndrome.  Her aunt is working hard to try and meet her additional needs and brought her to The Wish.  When she first joined aged five her language skills were poor, as well as her co-ordination and fine motor skills.  The Wish provide her with a personalised programme of therapy including speech therapy.  She also takes part in a whole range of activities, both educational activities and social ones.  Ana is integrated into a local mainstream school, but she only attends two days a week.  This makes The Wish’s support absolutely vital both for her and her family.

Ana is lucky in that in her aunt’s family she feels loved and important as a member of the family.  Eugenia strives to educate her properly and to be her mother and close friend as well.  The Wish supports her aunt and mother by teaching them about Down Syndrome and about some of the strategies and techniques they use to work effectively with Ana.  They are fortunate to have formed a good team with her family – together they can give Ana much more support than either of them can alone.

How to donate today

We are delighted to see the progress that Ana has made, and to see her enjoying our group activities so much.  It is very much for Ana, and other children like her, that we are appealing today.  It is so important that Ana’s care is not interrupted, and so we are doing all we can to fill gaps in the local funding.  Can you help us raise £4,300 by the end of the year so that we can continue to be there for Ana and her family (as well as 29 other children and young people)?

November newsletter – out now!

Our November newsletter is out now. It marks a new departure for St Gregory’s, introducing our three new partners in Moldova.  All three are tackling the woeful lack of community services for people with special needs or learning difficulties.  They also hope to challenge the stigma around special needs in a country where only 26% of the population believe that people with special needs should be included in the community. 

You will also find all the news from our Russian and Georgian partners, plus ideas for how you can get involved. You won’t want to miss our art talk from esteemed Hermitage Curator, Alexei Leporc. You are also invited to join us on an exciting trip to Georgia.

Meet our new Moldovan partners

In Moldova only 26% of the population believe that people with special needs should be included in their community. Like other ex-Soviet countries, Moldova has traditionally relied on large institutions to care for disabled children and adults. This has left communities wary of those who are different, and families with very few support services.

St Gregory’s has a history of championing inclusion in this region. We look forward to working with our new partners to give families access to the kind of support which will affirm their children’s value and help them reach their potential.

On 28th November, Giving Tuesday, there is a great opportunity to help. You can help us win a share of $1,200,000 by donating on that day via Global Giving.

We also have tickets on sale for our online talk on Ukrainian art and architecture from an esteemed curator, Alexei Leporc, at The Hermitage Museum. 

The Wish (Dorintsa) is based in Călărași. They provide therapy and education for children with additional needs in this mainly rural area.

Sunny Corner (Plaiul Soarelui) runs a farm in the Moldovan countryside, where young people with disabilities can get involved in meaningful work and social activities. We are delighted to have co-sponsored a ball for their families, and young people with learning difficulties from further afield, including Ukraine. Parents talk of how the event made them feel visible, and brought great joy to their children.

Rain Kids (Copiii Ploii) is based in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova. The charity provides therapy to children with special needs. Together we are tackling the skills gap by funding additional training for their therapists.

Memorial Tea and Nino’s visit

In recent years, coffee mornings in Ruislip organised by the late George and Shirley Guest, have raised thousands of pounds for Mkurnali to help with the rehabilitation and employment of homeless teenagers and young offenders in Tbilisi. Trips to Georgia organised by George inspired many people to support Mkurnali even more. This helped refurbish and equip Mkurnali’s house.

In memory of these two remarkable supporters, a group of volunteers: Liz Parry, Cicely Draper and St Gregory’s Director, Vivian Wright organised the Memorial Tea for George and Shirley on 15th October in Ruislip. The event was a great success and reunited more than 75 people, including George and Shirley’s daughter Rebecca, and Sam their grandson. A very special guest, Nino Chubabria, Director of Mkurnali came from Tbilisi to pay tribute to George and Shirley on behalf of Mkurnali’s young people.
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How A-Tech has helped Sasha

Our partners, Communication Space Centre in Moscow, support children and young people who do not communicate verbally. We support their Alternative Technology programme, using hi- and low-tech means to make communication possible. We are delighted that they have been able to move to bigger and better premises recently.

Sasha is one of thirty children and teenagers that Communciation Space help with regular one-to-one and group activities funded by St Gregory’s Foundation. Sasha is 14. Like all Communication Space’s young people he does not communicate verbally. He also has learning, emotional and behavioural problems. In just six months, Communication Space have helped him make great progress.

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Sunflower summer camp for families

Six families with children aged 5 to 11 took part in Sunflower’s summer camp this year. The venue this year was different: they stayed at a centre in Komarovo beside the Finnish Gulf as the log cabin (the dacha) required some repair and later a dramatic fire happened at the site.

A new location offered lots of scope for outdoor fun and games, and as usual special training was organised for both parents and children. Many of the activities related to the levels of freedom and responsibility that the parents give their children as they grow and establishing an appropriate balance. The children were able to explore the theme too through a fairy story, ‘Dwarf Long-nose’ in which a little boy has to cope with a magical transformation so complete that his parents don’t recognise him.