Work with disadvantaged children and young people

Big Change

Big Change helps young people aged 18-30 who have come out of orphanages
to get into college, university or a profession. Many have mental health problems or learning difficulties. Many realise the need for qualifications only after they have left the home.

Student Galina Zernova and Patricia Cockrell (FHM) at Big Change

The project gradually helps them to learn to read and write, become independent learners, find new interests, get their school-leaving certificate, and cope successfully with their workplace. As well as providing classes, Big Change offers workshops for teachers and social workers from orphanages across the Russian Federation. Friends House Moscow pays the salary of Natalia Kasitsina, the co-ordinator, and funds the majority of the classes.

The Circle

The Circle works to integrate children and young people with learning difficulties into society. They are now working with more than 150 children aged 3 and upwards who have autism, schizophrenia, Down’s syndrome and other problems. The Circle offers medical consultations, classes, drama groups, craft workshops, a summer camp, a parents’ club, and seminars for professionals. About 500 families a year take part in short courses. The Circle is now trying to expand its activities to cater for the over-18s, who are not helped by state services. Friends House Moscow takes a particular interest in the drama group.

One of the drama groups in performance


Save a Child
(part-funded by the Molly Bown legacy)

Save a Child is a voluntary organisation which has been working to increase the number of blood donors at the Russian Children’s Clinical Hospital in Russia so that parents no longer have to pay private donors, and doctors no longer have to choose which child will have a transfusion and which not. They operate from an unofficial office in part of the head doctor’s suite in the children’s hospital clinic. This is an unusual example of an NGO operating parallel to the state system. Save a Child has brought in about 700 donors, and its volunteers organise activities for children in the Russian Children’s Clinical Hospital, run theatre trips for the children and their families, and offer advice to parents. Their main support previously has been from business, but the financial crisis has reduced donations. FHM money has therefore been very important to them and has funded diagnostic scans for 13 children.