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Newsletter, November-December 2016

Seminar in Chelyabinsk

A seminar on 'Interdisciplinary Team of Specialists to Work with a Case of Family Trouble' was held from October 31 to November 2, 2016, at the Chelyabinsk diocesan administration. It was organized by the diocese of Chelyabinsk's social department directed by Archpriest Vladimir Voskresensky and Russia Round Table under the DECR.

The seminar was attended by social workers and clergy from various churches, sisters of parish charity services and staff members of the regional social protection center 'Family'. Opening the seminar, Metropolitan Nikodim of Chelyabinsk and Zlatoust stressed the special relevance of the event, as there is a crisis of the family in our society with family conflicts and problems arising ever more frequently and leading to the suffering of children. Many families are being destroyed. There is a growing misunderstanding between parents and children who are increasingly cultivated by computer and television. Caught in a grievous situation, people with family problems tend more often to come to church. For this reason it is necessary to know how to make the right assessment of the situation in a family and to give these people as much help as we can.

How to help a family in crisis, that is, a family with a low social status, unable to cope with its functions in one or more spheres of vital activity, a family unable to adapt on its own to changes and crises around and within it? How to involve in it various specialists - teachers, lowers, medical doctors, social and diakonical workers? What help can be given by the Church? And how to ensure that all the specialists act in coordination while a family does not just receive help but gets stronger and learns to cope with its problem on its own?

The best ways of doing it was offered by psychotherapist Segrey Borzov, program direct of the Taganka Children's Foundation in Moscow. He shared his own interesting experience citing striking examples.

'There is a crisis outside there, and everybody can see it. It leads to an increase in the number of poor families, and poverty is one of the major factors that launches family trouble', Sergey Borzov said, 'It is important to understand now how the same resources can be used to help more families to cope with this situation. Church social workers and the Church as a whole is a powerful resource. It can give not only material support available at parishes in the form of clothes and food stuffs but first of all the spiritual support'.

Participants were actively engaged in asking questions, building models and discussing various situations, real and hypothetic, concerning family problems and conflicts, and in searching for solutions together. Among active participants was Natalia Arapova, a social worker at the St. George church. She recounted how often they at the parish have to deal with family problems. It is important, she said, not only to give a person the daily bread but also to prompt him or her how to find a way out of the situation. 'Before this training we used to help people only with their specific requests. If one asks for clothes we give them, if one asks for foodstuffs we put together a food package. But we never looked into the family, into what was really going in it. If they have run out of money, they come again to ask for it. In this way we do not solve their problem, but it turns out that it can be solved. And here we are taught to do it in the right way', she said.

Commenting on the results of the seminar, Father Vladimir Voskresensky noted, '… a specialist has come to help the parish social workers and charity services to work with people they often have to deal with. We hope that this discussion will be helpful and the knowledge gained will be practiced in life and in the work with families… It is valuable that Sergey Borzov shared his own experience and working methods. As far as I know, all the participants in the seminar were thoroughly satisfied. They said everything went very well and they received a great deal of new valuable knowledge to be of use in practice'.

The second seminar held in Chelyabinsk from November 28 to December 2, 2016, under the theme 'Organizing the Work of an Interdisciplinary Team with Families Affected by the Alcoholic Dependence Problem' was also organized by the diocese of Chelyabinsk social department. The lessons were conducted by S. Borzov, Moscow, and Ms. Yelena Rydalevskaya, executive director of the St. Petersburg-based Diakonia charitable foundation.

Alcoholism is one of the most common causes of family troubles. In combination with some other problems it leads to a crisis in family relationships. The task of the seminar was to explain the nature of alcoholic abuse and the principles and rules of effective help to families affected by this problem as well as to teach the participants to work in team with various specialists and to plan and give help to such families.

On December 2, after the seminar concluded its work, there was a round-table conference on 'Uniting and Developing Resources for More Effective Help to Families in Crisis'. Invited to take part in the dialogue were representatives of secular social services of the South Urals region including Ms. M. Pavlova, Chelyabinsk regional human rights commissioner, Ms. I. Butorina, Chelyabinsk regional children's rights commissioner, as well as representatives of the regional education system and social services.

The participants were greeted by the head of the Metropolia of Chelyabinsk, Metropolitan Nikodim of Chelyabinsk and Zlatoust. He said in particular, 'What can be more urgent than help to a neighbour in trouble? The more so that those who are at stake are children. Our sacred duty is to unite our resources and efforts in this common task'.

The exchange of opinions at the round table proved to come from the people who are very much motivated for action. Help is often needed by seemingly well-to-do families. Thus, children from quite successful families, judging by formal criteria, have begun to take their lives voluntarily with increasing frequency. Obviously, this problem can be solved only through involving a wide range of specialists.

According to I. Butorina, 'today we discuss new social challenges. The state, public associations and the Russian Orthodox Church need to join their efforts to respond to these challenges and prevent the very emergence of some crises'.

Yelena Rydalevskaya shared her thoughts about the reasons of family problems and ways of resolving them. 'The problem of alcoholism and drug addiction is paramount in Russia, because where do orphans come from? - From parents who are drug addicts and alcoholics. Where do real situations of trouble come from? - Again, from someone's dependency behavior. And who sit in prisons? - Those who were sent there for selling or storing drugs or committing a crime under the influence. That is, the dependence on psychoactive substances is often the cause of family or social trouble. Today, social technologies have been developed for successful help to those caught in dependency behavior, and it is the Church that is called to implement them. Good works are the best way of preaching. Indeed, people believe deeds more than words. For this reason, if we wish to be trusted by the population we should be Christians not in letter but in spirit and show love. Who are those to whom we should show love? - To those who undergo hardships and those with whom we should share their griefs'.

The family is one of the basic Christian values. All that threatens it threatens to harmonious human life, undermines the stability of a society. Cooperation between secular and ecclesial services should aim at helping to preserve a family and restore its ability to overcome vital situations on its own.

Based on Ms. R. Galikhmanova's materials (www.georgy74.ru) and the Chelyabinsk Diocesan Press Service (mitropolia74.ru)

Seminar in Ufa

A seminar on 'Interdisciplinary Team of Specialists to Work with a Case of Family Trouble' was held from November 7 to 10, 2016, at the Satoris municipal center for psychological, pedagogical, medical and social aid in the city of Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan. It was organized by the Diocese of Ufa department for charity and social service and conducted by S. Borzov, psychotherapist, program director of the Taganka Children Foundation and member of the Moscow municipal department of labor and social security. The seminar was attended by the diocese of Ufa's sisters of mercy, social workers and clergy, staff members of the diocesan department for combatting drug addiction and alcoholism and volunteers of the church of the Saviour-Not-Made-With-Hands' charity service, representatives of the Salavat and Neftekamsk diocesan social departments as well as staff members of the Satoris center.

The primary aim of the seminar was to teach the participants to detect critical family relationships and to help heal them. The attendees were given information about the peculiarities of professional communication and techniques of involving families in work together with specialists in overcoming crises. They also were taught some skills of working out plans for helping families through the efforts of an inter-disciplinary team of specialists, practicing the work with cases in various modeled situations and methods of assessing family situations tested in 20 regions in Russia and approved by the Serbsky Institute, and were given other helpful information.

The second training seminar on 'Organizing the Work of an Inter-disciplinary Team with Families Affected by Alcoholic Dependence was held from December 12 to 16, 2017, at the Satoris center. It was held by S. Borzov and narcologist Ye. Rydalevskaya, executive director of the St. Petersburg-based Diakonia charitable foundation. They explained the nature of alcoholic dependence and principals and methods of effective help to families affected by this problem. They also informed the participants about peculiarities of professional communication in the course of work with a dependence, techniques of involving a family in the work together with specialists and planning the work of an inter-disciplinary team of specialists with such families.

On December 14, a roundtable was held as part of the seminar on 'Inter-disciplinary Interaction of Departments and Institutions and Religious Organizations in Working with Families in Crisis'. It was organized by the Ufa Administration's commission for state-confessions relations and cooperation with religious organizations and the Ufa municipal directorate for guardianship and patronage. The roundtable was attended by state officials, representatives of local self-government, departments, institutions, public and religious and other non-commercial organizations engaged concerned with the problems of families in crisis. Reports were made by S. Mayazitov, moderator of the roundtable, deputy head of the Ufa administration, R. Karamyshev, an adviser to the chairman of the council for state-confessions relations under the Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Ms. M. Nelyubova, staff member of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, A. Arslanov, first vice-chairman of the Bashkortostan Muslim Board, R. Mamleyev, imam-hatyb of the Lyalya-Tulpan madrassa mosque of the Central Muslim Board in Russia, Archpriest Vyachelsav Arkhangelsky, head of the ROC diocese of Ufa department for charity and social service, the Rev. Alexander Zagirov, head of the Salavat diocesan department for social service, N. Soroka, teacher and psychologist of the Or Avner, an autonomous non-commercial secondary school, Ms. T. Kvasnikova, head of the Ufa municipal office for guardianship and patronage, and Ms. L. Mikhailova, deputy chief physician of the First Republican Drug Abuse Clinic.

The round table participants pointed to a positive experience of the work with families in crisis accumulated in Ufa. To promote the establishment of an inter-disciplinary cooperation between departments, institutions and religious organizations in the work with families in crisis, the roundtable adopted a resolution recommending in particular:

  • that the Ufa municipal directorate for guardianship and patronage, department of guardianship, custody and interaction with medical institutions of the city municipalities administrations, centers of psychological and educational, medical and social assistance "establish close cooperation with the Russian Muslim Board, Bashkortostan Muslim Board, Ufa diocese of ROC (MP), Ufa Jewish religious community on the prevention of crisis families; organize seminars for imams and parishes priests to assist the families in crisis; during 2017, together with religious organizations to hold roundtables on interdisciplinary cooperation of agencies, institutions, faith-based organizations working with families of crisis";
  • that the Ufa administration's education directorate for linguistic policy 'organize a working group consisting of representatives of departments, institutions and public and religious organizations for rendering services to families in crisis, work out annual joint work plans, and introduce to the 2017 plan of the Ufa administration's commission for state-confessions relations and cooperation with religious organizations a hearing of representatives of religious organizations on preventive measures to be taken with regard to families in crisis';
  • that the Central Muslim Board in Russia, the Muslim Board in Bashkortostan, the ROC diocese of Ufa and the Jewish religious community in Ufa 'hold regular lectures for parishioners on the spiritual and moral relationships in the family'.

Based on the materials on www.eparchia-ifa.ru, spas-ufa.cerkov.ru, ufacity.info, www.eparchia-salavar.ru

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