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New parents in Russia are still being advised to abort pregnancies when there is only the mildest threat of abnormality. Those who are given the chance at life, including those with downs syndrome, autism, ADHD, intellectual delay disorder and foetal alcohol syndrome, are often ostracised and neglected by society. Some are spat at and repeatedly hit in anger; branded ‘stupid’ by the institution staff whose 'care' they have been placed in. For family members who decide to ignore the advice of medical professionals and keep and care for a child that's different, life can be hard because of the reactions from society and a lack support. Mothers often lose the support of the father and have to cope raising their child alone. Increasingly people ARE taking the brave step to be the primary carers to their children with disabilities. Sadly though, there's little training for independence for young people with disabilities so they remain ostracised from society as they haven't been taught how to function within it.

The Training Apartment... Amidst all this intolerance, a place called the 'Phoenix Training Apartment' has been opened in Moscow. Young people with disabilities can stay here and learn a level of independence; how to shop, cook, clean and develop social skills. Their live-in carers train and care for two young people each, giving respite to primary carers and a sense of achievement for the young people themselves.

The Cost... A one month stay at the Phoenix Training Apartment costs £200. This may not sound huge, but when you consider the average monthly wage in Russia was £525 last year, £200 is a lot. Most primary carers are likely to be single mothers who need benefits to survive making £200 an impossible amount for them. This fee pays for food, activities, entrance fees to events and accommodation; and if there is anything left, it is returned to the family!

Yuri & Ira who run the Federovits programme for young people with disabilities, have sent three of their group to this centre so far. They have been thrilled by the level of independence their young people have demonstrated since. We'd love to be able to send a few more of Yuri & Ira's apprentices to this amazing place by providing extra funds for them.

Debbie's recent challenge to climb Ben Nevis was to do just that! You can still donate to send young people with learning difficulties to the Phoenix Training Apartment on her fundraising page or donate by calling the office direct or via our website.

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