Pskov is capital and administrative centre of the Pskovskaya Province. Located on Russia’s westernmost border, the city is located about 12 miles east of the neighbouring country of Estonia.
The province also shares its borders with the countries of Latvia and Belarus, making it the only region in Russia to be contiguous with three other countries. With around 840,000 people living in the province of Pskov, demographic studies have continued to show a significant decline in the population since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The leading industrial sectors in Pskov provide many people with livelihoods in the electronics and communications industries. There is also an abundance of natural resources in the region. Most notably, the building materials industry is able to exploit vast areas of woodland in many areas around the province.
Despite this, the province still has fundamental problems that stem from its changed situation in 1991. After the collapse of the USSR, the Pskov region ended up on an international borderline, which in turn caused large disruptions to cross-border trading. Efforts are continually being made to improve the relationship between the province and its bordering countries. However, the presence of these issues is still visible in many communities around the region.
Many people have been faced with difficulty trying to find work in more rural areas of the province. With a lack of job prospects, they are forced to migrate away from their families to the major cities, or even to other countries in search of better opportunities.
Children face a growing risk of losing parental care in Pskov
With the economic issues currently present in Pskov, competition for work is very high and unemployment widespread. Work is frequently low paid, and is often in sectors prone to hazardous working environments. Poor conditions have created high levels of cardiovascular diseases amongst the working population. As a result, people in this area of Russia face a lower life-expectancy, with around 67% of men dying before they reach retirement.
In 2010, information collected by a demographic study of the region revealed a significant drop in the population (around 11%) since 2002. Many citizens have chosen to relocate outside the region in search of greater employment opportunities, contributing to this population decline. In particular, many parents are also faced with the difficult decision of migrating elsewhere to help provide for their families. In many of these cases, the children are left behind and cared for by relatives. However, in this situation, there are still families in some areas of the region that struggle to gain access to sufficient resources to provide their children with the appropriate levels of care.
Rising poverty prompts SOS Children's Villages to provide children with more direct support
In recent years the worsening socio-economic situation in Pskov has affected many communities around the province. With more families struggling to cope with the region’s escalating issues, the number of children living without parental care is rising.
Since 2008, we have been actively working within Pskov’s communities to provide aid and assistance to the local population. The high levels of hardship we saw upon arrival prompted us to establish a more permanent presence in the region, and in 2010 our newly built Children’s Village became fully operational; providing homes and SOS Mothers for children who are unable to live with their families.
How we help in Pskov
We work from the district of Zaveliche, an area of Pskov surrounded by schools, nurseries, shopping facilities and many other essential services. This location within the region gives children from our Village the benefits of a secure and stable environment and ultimately helps with their integration back into the community.
Our SOS Social Centres have also introduced community support programmes, aiming to provide children with access to clothing, health care, nutritional information, and the educational support they need for their development. As well as this, our trained counselling and psychological specialists are on hand to provide any support to children or parents that could benefit from someone to talk to.
We also frequently provide assistance with the challenges many parents face in the region. We show particular attention to single mothers, providing them with advice on parenting skills, income generation and housing options. As well as this, biological parents and foster families are also able to regularly receive support from our SOS Social Centre. Here, they can consult with our specially trained staff to help them with a wide range of childcare resources, and vocational advice.
However, there is still a great deal of hardship occurring within the region. In some cases, this proves to be too much for the most severely impoverished people to cope with. If in these situations children become unable to stay with their families, in spite of our support, we help them find a new home in our SOS Children’s Village. Here, they can feel the love and security of a home run by their new SOS Mother, while receiving round-the-clock care alongside other SOS children in the family.
Due to the devastating economic conditions surrounding the residents of Pskov, SOS Children's Villages will continue to help in the region. We will provide support to families, and a warm loving environment for children that have nowhere else to turn.