Moscow is a city of twelve and a half million people, the second largest city in Europe. It is also famously one of the richest. So the obvious question is: why St Gregory’s is supporting a project there? We are targeting our support to the most vulnerable of an already excluded group: the disabled. Through our partners, Communication Space, we are helping teenagers and young adults with autism, a diagnosis that is so new in Russia that many still don’t understand what it is. Although Moscow leads the way in diagnosis, most families still struggle to get the help that they need to take part in their society, or even sometimes to leave the house.
We work with Communication Space, a forward-thinking organisation that helps teenagers and young adults with autism and other disabilities affecting communication to become happier, calmer and more connected. They teach alternative methods of communication and help young people integrate into society in a way which is respectful and which works with, rather than against, the grain. Working in such a locally little-understood field, as well as vital funding, we are also able to help with moral support and access to world-class expertise in the UK and Europe. Although based in Moscow, this organisation frequently shares its expertise with the rest of the Russian-speaking world through webinars funded by St Gregory’s Foundation.
- 16 young people benefit from individual help to improve their communication skills. Each one has made progress, learning how to make simple requests or express themselves.
- We now fund an online counselling service for families, which is available to those living across Russia.
- Learning to use visual timetables and a communication book has reduced Andrei’s anxiety and self-harm, introduced new skills and interests, and helped him say his first meaningful words. Read his story here.