During this pandemic, those we help will become even MORE vulnerable. Our work cannot stop, we must just adapt the way we deliver our support.
"Businesses are closed and there is no work for our women. We have no money to pay utility bills at our centre that supports so many vulnerable women and children. Please pray for us."
The coronavirus pandemic is impacting economies worldwide. While governments scramble to create rescue plans and mitigate for its impact; as a charity, we must do the same. The quote above is from A, who runs the crisis centre that houses 40 vulnerable women and children.
We've already received requests for support from people who can no longer afford food. Many vulnerable people in Russia work unofficially so will receive no income during this extended time out of work.
We support :
*Abused women: Women at risk of being killed by abusive partners/husbands desperately need emergency accommodation. We provide this at a crisis centre for women AND their children. 14,000 women are killed due to domestic violence in Russia each year (1).
*Orphanage leavers: These young people experience ongoing repercussions from traumatic childhoods. Their experiences include witnessing the murder of parents, abuse, ongoing mental and physical scars, parental addiction, homelessness, abandonment and a childhood spent in an orphanage. Now they face independence without family support. Our young people receive regular help from a safe adult, a Mentor, who counsels them and helps them overcome their trauma. This support cannot stop. 10% of orphanage leavers die or commit suicide by the age of 20 (2). This work is time critical.
*Vulnerable orphan mums: They need support groups to survive. They are 'at risk' families living in poverty and learning to parent with no life skills or family support. Some have attempted to take their own lives, but through a support group, are successfully bonding with and parenting their children. A mum, whose severely disabled son recently died, began drinking to cope, putting her other children at risk of being put in an orphanage. At group, she knows she isn't alone. Being supported emotionally and practically equips vulnerable mums to be the parents their children need. Without it, children are needlessly placed in institutions, repeating the orphan cycle.
*People in Poverty: Minimum wage in Russia is less than £1 an hour (3). This isn't enough to live on and survive as the cost of living (4) is comparable to here in the UK. These vulnerable people receive support through bursaries and shelter at the crisis centre and transition homes. Preventing homelessness helps keep families together and reduces the risk of young people turning to drugs, alcohol or crime.
*Addictions: Women facing addictions in Russia often lose their children to the orphanage system when they seek treatment. Maintaining the family unit is a huge motivation to recovery which is why we support a crisis centre where women can keep their children with them whilst they undergo a comprehensive rehabilitation programme.
*Young people with disabilities: Empowering those with disabilities to gain independence is still a relatively new concept in Russia. Often these young people fall between the cracks and end up living in dangerous accommodation. We run projects to empower these young people, to ensure their housing is adequate and that they have the resources they need to thrive.
Those we support face problems that will not stop during a pandemic.
Their needs will only increase as incomes drop and essential human contact is restricted; this will also amount to extra pressure on our mentors to support them.
How delivery of Love Russia programmes will change during this crisis:
*The crisis centre has put new practices in place to prevent the infection being brought into the centre or being spread between those who live there.
*Support for young people and vulnerable mums will temporarily change from face-to-face groups and individual sessions to phone support and Zoom meetings. Mentors will remind their groups of guidelines that are necessary to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and will ensure they have enough physical resources e.g. food and hygiene products to get through this time.
*Bursaries and financial aid will still be able to be delivered as usual.
Why LOVE RUSSIA needs support at this time:
*Annual fundraising events have been cancelled. These events are key in meeting new supporters and boosting our regular income. Money invested in event preparation will now see no return.
*We're unable to visit churches or fellowship groups, a central aspect of our fundraising.
*Our June/July magazine is unlikely to circulate which means that a significant portion of our supporter base cannot be reached (many are elderly with no internet access).
*In Russia, the impact of this pandemic is also being felt. At the crisis centre, a portion of their income is raised from residents' wages. As work is no longer available, the women are unable to earn any money. A, who runs the centre, is incredibly worried as they don't have enough income to cover their utilities and food (cost approximately £1,000 per month.)
While we will be doing our best to boost our fundraising efforts online to hopefully mitigate the impact of Covid-19, it is very unlikely we will be able to fully compensate for the situation.
Love Russia already runs on a very low budget, with minimal UK fundraising costs and expenses, so if our income drops we will not be able to support all of our Russian projects. This could have a devastating effect on the vulnerable we support. Please consider donating to prevent this.
We understand many of you will be struggling yourselves and might not be in a position to give financially. If you cannot do this, we'd really appreciate knowing you are holding us up in your prayers or sharing our ministry with your friends and family on social media.
£50,000 covers vital support to our projects until the end of our financial year (June 2020) as well as our minimal UK running costs so we can continue the charity.
We will add money raised through other platforms as 'offline donations' to allow us all to see a running total of our efforts.
Our income has already seen a drop and we are now having to review every penny we are spending. We do not want to reduce any of our support to our projects as their needs are so great, especially at this time...we must prevent our income dropping any further.
1. "The silent nightmare of domestic violence in Russia". www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21474931 . 1 March 2013. Accessed on 30th March 2020.
2. Orphans in Russia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphans_in_Russia . 15 December 2019. Accessed on 30th March 2020.
3. List of minimum wages by country. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_wages_by_country . 28 March 2020. Accessed on 30th March 2020.
4. Cost of Living Comparison Between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Russia&city1=Moscow&country2=Russia&city2=Saint+Petersburg . Accessed on 30th March 2020.