Project information

Disabled Children in the Community, Ryazan, Russia

To improve the daily lives of disabled children living with their families by supporting their development through play, communication and self-help skills, principally through the delivery of Portage, a pre-school education home visiting service. This prevents children going into institutions.


Charity information


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  • Need


    In Russia, mothers are encouraged to give up their disabled children to the state to be cared for. When a mother decides to keep her child and bring them up at home she faces many problems. Family breakdown - fathers may leave and the mother may return to her parents for support looking after the child. Financial difficulties - limited financial support from the state and the difficulty of working with a child at home. The whole process can leave a mother feeling isolated and depressed.


    Many disabled children end up in orphanages but if more support was available in the home, families would be less likely to hand their children to the State for care.

    ThePromise will deliver Portage to children in their homes. Working with their parents, the children will develop skills that will enable them to attend special schools and play their part in family life.

    The links created by the Portage team allows parents to meet and talk and their children to make friends.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To improve the lives of 24 disabled children living in their own homes in Ryazan.


    » A student volunteer Portage worker from Ryazan State University will provide individual weekly Portage sessions to each child in their home
    » Start a new community project with students from the Medical University in Ryazan.
    » To ensure a holistic approach to each child, introduce specialist UK volunteers including physiotherapists, OTs, speech therapists and dieticians.
    » Provide an ongoing training programme for volunteer student Portage workers from Ryazan State University and the Medical University.

    The development of the children involved and their acquisition of new skills. Some will reach the level where they are able to enter mainstream education.

    Aim 2

    To enable parents of disabled children to meet and socialise with other parents.


    » Support Our Children drop-in centre where children can receive Portage and mothers have the opportunity to meet other mothers with disabled children.

    Parents will feel supported and children will remain with their families and not be sent to institutions.

    Aim 3

    To replicate this project elsewhere in Russia


    » To present the findings of the project at Russian and international conferences.
    » To work with other organisations in Russia to develop new community programmes.

    The development of new community programmes set up in other cities in Russia

  • Impact


    The students involved in the project are the decision makers of the future in the disability sector. Their experiences of working with disabled children will feed into future policies.

    Changing Russian society's perception of the disabled.

    Working with government run institutions to change perceptions of those involved with policy surrounding disability.


    The biggest obstacle to this project is working with local authorities and NGOs to embed Portage into Russian society. However, the demand from families and the high level of interested shown by education and medical professionals since ThePromise started working in Ryazan and the recent work undertaken for the Department for Social Protection means that although progress may be slow, there is a desire for change.


    ThePromise can provide written reports on the progress of the project to all donors including case studies on individual children in the programme. We keep individual records of each child on the Portage programme detailing goals and progress using the Portage checklist.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £30,175

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £8,716 Staff costs, training Portage workers salaries, volunteer portage worker expenses, Portage workshops, specialist training
      £21,459 Management costs Project management costs, visits by UK personnel overseas and office expenses
  • Background


    Ryazan is a large industrial town with a population of 500,000, 180 km south east of Moscow.


    The families and children receiving weekly Portage sessions and the student volunteers.

    With the growing knowledge that disabled children have abilities to do things, this will slowly disseminate amongst the population, gradually changing the attitude towards disabled people generally.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    A highly successful pilot project showed without doubt that Portage is a great tool for assisting disabled children in their development. We now have 7 years experience working with disabled children in Russia and have seen how Portage changes their lives.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.



    Natasha is involved in the daily running and organisation of the project. She is a recent graduate in Psychology student at Ryazan university.

    Elvira Samarina

    Elvira is the university's head of department of Psychology and Defectology . She is involved in student recruitment to the project and supervision.

    10 Volunteer Student Portage Workers

    Trained by ThePromise they hold home based weekly Portage sessions with children and their parents.

Portage session with the twins

Portage session with the twins


Trains a Portage Worker

“Nobody in authority would help me when I told them my daughter had Down’s syndrome. Kindergartens said there was nothing they could do for her.”

A mother