Caring in a crisis: Lessons from Russia

Caring in a crisis: Lessons from Russia

The Tavistock Institute meet with a delegation of Russian social workers to share recent knowledge and learning on the role of social care in emergency response situations in both the UK and Russia.


23 April 2009

The Tavistock Institute recently met a Russian delegation of social workers to share knowledge on the role of social care in emergency response.

As well as hearing experiences from Russia, the Institute shared conclusions from a knowledge review it conducted in 2008 into the role of social care in responses to UK disasters such as flooding and the 7/7 London bombings.

Two of the Tavistock Institute project team were invited to speak to the delegation of a TACIS funded project (Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States) on ‘Empowering Women working as social workers in communities affected by disaster ‘. It was a unique opportunity to transfer learning between social care practices in the UK and Russia.

The visiting group included the Deputy Mayor of Kemerovo City responsible for Social Services, Health and Education, the Head of Social Services, South West Moscow, the Director of the Social services centre, Kemerovo, Siberia, Head of Social Services Centre, Zaparechny Region, North Ossetia and the Deputy Head psychology department, Federal Ministry of Extreme Situations.

A key learning point from the meeting was an understanding of the structure of Russian social care services in comparison to the UK. For example in Beslan, while ‘Social Service Centres’ were set up for those affected by the school hostage massacre in September 2004, the authorities also set up support services for social workers. In North Ossetia, the value of preparedness in social service departments was also seen as essential to rehabilitation, especially when you live in an area affected by terrorism and frequent natural disasters (up to 20 disasters in 20 years).

This exchange reinforced conclusions from the Institute’s knowledge review for the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) which found that while social care services have a prominent role to play in response and recovery in the UK there are few resources in place to support it, leading to a marked variation in preparedness.

As a result of the exchange, the Institute project team was invited to attend the Third International Forum of Social Workers of Siberia and the Far East, which will take place in the Altai region of Russia in August this year. The delegates also asked if they could translate the knowledge review ‘Caring in a crisis: The contribution of social care to emergency response and recovery’ into Russian.

To read the review in full follow this link.

To learn more about the TACIS project and the Russian Union of Social Workers and Social Pedagogues go to their website.

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