Both organizations received grants of the European Union under the action ‘EU solidarity with Russian civil society: assistance to elderly people and adults with disabilities.’
The grant allows the So-Yedineniye Foundation to maintain the assisted living program and the services of tutors and therapists helping deaf-blind people in their training in the time of the pandemic. The Foundation’s professionals help people with combined hearing and sight impairment who are left without family care, live lives that are as close to regular as possible, cooking, cleaning, washing their clothes, practicing sports, going out and shopping independently. In the assisted living, they also get new skills.
“Living in an apartment is better than living in the care facility. Assisted living is enabling. I have learned to cook, care for myself, use home appliances, and go on guided tours,” says Natalya, who has lived in one of the Foundation’s training apartments near Moscow since August 2020.
Sergey, who has been staying in the house for deaf-blind people in the village of Puchkovo, Moscow Region, since August echoes that opinion: “I like my assisted living in Puchkovo. I am learning pottery, meeting nice people, and keeping in touch with those who have already moved on. I have learned how to make various things, like wool art or soap. And we go on trips; my favourite one so far is the pilgrimage to the Diveyevo Nunnery.”
In the current conditions of the pandemic and related restrictions, people with dual sensory loss risk ending up completely isolated: their families may not be able to visit them, social workers can only see them once or twice a week due to increased workload, while many specialized interpreters and assistants have to self-isolate. This makes computer and mobile phone skills essential to people with combined hearing and sight impairment, both for keeping in touch with their families and for access to emergency services and updated information. Which, in turn, makes tech supports services necessary. Since August 2020, the So-Glasiye Association has provided consultations on the use of personal computers, mobile devices, and computer screen reader programme as well as tech support under the EU grant.
“The support engineer helped me set up a Google account and fill out my mail client profile. Thanks so much for your prompt, competent, and, I would even say, elegant work,” says Natalya from Saint-Petersburg, who needed help creating an email account.
The consultations are provided in multiple formats: via email, by phone, as well as messenger or social network communications. Additionally, face-to-face assistance is available in Moscow and the Moscow Region, Izhevsk, Krasnodar, Yoshkar-Ola, Perm, Chelyabinsk, and Ufa.
“I asked the remote computer support specialist to help me turn off automatic updates on my devices. I don’t know how to do these things myself. The engineer connected to my laptop remotely and changed the settings as required. He also consulted me on how and where to get activation keys,” says Irina from the town of Pochinok, Smolensk Region.
The action ‘EU solidarity with Russian civil society: assistance to elderly people and adults with disabilities’ is funded by the European Union and implemented by Charitable Foundation for Philanthropy Development CAF Russia. The action aims at helping elderly people and adults with disabilities in Russia to cope the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and its implications. Apart from the EU, the key donor of the action, individual contributions were made by Belgium, Estonia, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.
(Photo courtesy of "So-Yedineniye" foundation)