Teenagers in St Petersburg orphanages and recent orphanage-leavers are supported by psychologists and volunteer families to help them make the difficult transition to adult life. Group activities and individual therapy helps them overcome childhood traumas and prepare themselves for living independently, finding and keeping a job, and forming positive relationships.
Every year around 600 young people leave orphanages in St Petersburg. When they leave aged between 17 and 23 many of them will quickly find themselves homeless, involved in crime and risky behaviour. Surveys show that six years later three out of every four will still feel isolated and find it difficult to cope with life. Every aspect of their lives is affected: they are often unemployed, have poorer health, and find it difficult to maintain relationships.
Two groups of 10 teenage orphans go to weekly meeting with psychologists to prepare them practically and emotionally for adult life. A social worker makes home visits to 10 more young people living in the community. Volunteers who also grew up in orphanages use their own experience to help the younger orphans. Our aim is to strengthen our young people emotionally, to widen their social network, and help them take responsibility for their own lives.
The thirty young people who take part in our programme will learn to take responsibility and solve their own problems in the future. We believe this is essential for their future happiness, their employability and the success of their future family life. Their success will benefit the whole community, meaning lower crime and lower welfare dependency.