Helping Hands is a small-scale and cost effective project offering intensive support and help for children who are most at risk of forming life-threatening patterns of behaviour, or who live in families facing crisis.
Based in the Siberian city of Chita, Helping Hands works with children and their families living in extremely harsh conditions. Work includes activities and guidance for children, respite breaks, family support that strengthen relationships and material aid.
Much of the current work of Helping Hands concerns families facing debts of one sort or another. This is a major issue for many people in Chita where costs are rising while wage levels fail to keep pace or, in some cases, may even be falling. Most of the families that our partners deal with are not reckless in their expenditure but because of their poverty often literally face a choice; pay the bills or feed the children.
One of the highest costs they face is utility charges. They may be entitled to subsidy but only if they can prove that they are entirely debt free. So our partners are active in helping families restructure their debts or, in very extreme cases where homelessness might follow, helping them pay off the debts altogether. It is important, of course, to ensure that these families do not fall back into debt and so our partners take active steps to teach them how to manage a meagre income.
An example of how we have helped one family is the case of a single mother. In order to supplement her meagre income she had to secure a second job but she needed an extensive medical check-up which is particularly expensive. Knowing that this lady and her children would be in a far better position if the second job was secured, Helping Hands helped to meet these costs. The lady concerned is now much more self-sufficient and is working hard to lead a fully independent life.
Egor's parents are in prison on drug charges. His younger brother is in an orphanage as his grandma could only care for one child. Egor and his grandma's benefits are £135 a month - if and when it arrives. Life-saving supplies (wood, food, clothing) are provided by Helping Hands as well as encouragement and prayerful support. Although 10 years of age, Egor only started school a year ago but with our help he is making excellent progress
For a profile of the country we suggest the BBC website on Russia
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