BEARR Newsletter, August 2021

“Gulsara washes the dishes with her son tied to her back”, by Maksatbek Osmonaliev. Poltavka village, Chui region, Kyrgyzstan. This is one of the photos selected by the judges of BEARR’s photography competition to feature in our exhibition.

27 August 2021

Dear friends and colleagues, 

We hope you’re having a lovely summer. In this issue, as part of our ongoing celebration of BEARR’s 30th anniversary, we bring you the first of three articles exploring BEARR’s history, this time looking at its first ten years 1991-2001. Our Chairman, Nicola Ramsden, also provides an overview of how the organisation’s activities and goals have evolved during its first 30 years of existence. 

Additionally, this issue includes details of BEARR’s Autumn Lecture taking place online on Wednesday 22 September at 16:00 UK time. We also have the latest update from Luke Grenfell-Shaw’s “Bristol2Beijing” journey; two project reports from former Small Grants recipients, and a review of Andrey Kurkov’s “Grey Bees” by trustee Janet Gunn, plus the usual news from the region. Enjoy!

With warm wishes,
The BEARR Trust

News & Events

BEARR: The first decade (1991 – 2001)

To mark BEARR’s 30th anniversary this year, BEARR’s Information Officer, Louisa Long, has spoken to a host of characters involved in BEARR over the years. In this first article, she speaks to some of those who were instrumental in getting BEARR off the ground in 1991, in in the turmoil which accompanied the break-up of the Soviet Union, and explores the first decade of the organisation’s development.

As an introduction to these anniversary articles, BEARR’s Chairman, Nicola Ramsden, offers an overview of the Trust’s evolution over the past thirty years: from its beginnings delivering emergency aid, to its support of the development of CSOs in the former Soviet Union and the exchange of expertise between the UK and the region, and the inauguration of BEARR’s Small Grants Scheme in 2006. 

If readers have any pictures from BEARR’s history hidden at home, we would love to see them! Please send them to

Luke’s Bristol2Beijing Journey

Luke Grenfell-Shaw has been making excellent progress with his 30,000km tandem bike journey from Bristol to Beijing. While in Kazakhstan recently, he was able to visit the Training Cafes set up by the Psychoanalytic Association in Almaty, Kazakhstan as part of their 2018 BEARR-funded project.

We’re delighted that the cafes are still thriving and providing employment to many young people and adults with learning disabilities. Read Luke’s latest blog post about the café here and read their project report from 2018 here

Autumn Lecture: ‘Media and civil society under attack in Russia: what can we do?’

You are warmly invited to The BEARR Trust’s Autumn Lecture, a discussion on the theme of ‘Media and civil society under attack in Russia: what can we do?’ on 22 September at 16:00 UK time. The event will be held on Zoom and further details, including how to register, will be sent out via Mailchimp shortly.

Our speakers are Maria Logan, Trustee, Future of Russia Trust, based in London, and Anastasia Burakova, Chairperson of the “Otkrytka” Human Rights Team in St Petersburg, Russia, which provides legal assistance to Russian citizens whose human rights are threatened by the practices of the police, courts and law enforcement agencies.

B2B Challenge
BEARR trustee Jane Ebel completed the B2B Challenge in France

On the weekend of 17 – 18 July, Luke and Pippa Ebel also organised the B2B Challenge to celebrate the halfway point of Luke’s journey and encourage people to get active in any way that works for them. Over 100 people got involved, including several BEARR trustees, Friends, and contacts. Read more about their experiences here.


Review: “Grey Bees” by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Boris Dralyuk

Read this glowing review of Ukrainian novelist Kurkov’s latest work by trustee Janet Gunn.

Best known for his satirical novel “Death and the Penguin”, Kurkov’s most recent book follows gentle beekeeper Sergeyich who, when everyone else abandons his Donbas village, is left to stubbornly care for his bees alone as the war rumbles on around him.

Project reports

Bonuvoni Pyanj, Tajikistan

BEARR’s 2020 grant recipient’s, Bonuvoni Pyanj, has recently finished its project. Read here about how they sought to raise awareness of domestic violence in 10 communities in the Pyanj province of Tajikistan, working with four other NGOs.

CISC Fergana, Uzbekistan

In 2020, BEARR awarded a grant to the Centre for Civil Initiatives Support, Fergana branch, so that they could provide training to their staff and the staff of partner organisations in preventing and raising awareness of domestic violence, as well as provision of rehabilitation services for victims. Read their project report here.

Centre for Women and the Modern World (CWMW), Azerbaijan

CWMW’s project sought to provide training for doctors, police, youth activists and NGO leaders on preventing and raising awareness about domestic violence and to teach them the relevant laws in Shirvan’s rural districts.

CWMW describe how domestic violence rates rose because of Covid-19 and how they had to adjust their services first because of the pandemic and later because of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Read about how they adapted their project here.

News from the region

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