Green light for charitable projects targeted at the ederly?
The gerontologist Eduard Karyukhin,chief executive of the Good Deed Foundation, has recently referred to President Medvedev's not infrequent public references to the problems experienced by elderly Russians.
Mr Karyukhin based his comments on what the head of state said at a meeting of the praesidium of the State Council. According to the Kremlin, this was that concern for the elderly fell within the president's personal remit. As recently as October, the latter had held a number of meetings in various regions, visited regional social services centres and residential institutions for veterans, and met social workers. In his view it was essential to put the accounting for those receiving social benefits in order, to expand the pharmaceutical network, simplify the issue of prescriptions to the elderly and introduce a way of delivering medicines to their homes that is convenient for them. In his speech the head of state also dwelt on the subject of improving the fabric and equipment of boarding schools and gerontological centres, of which there are reckoned to be about 1,500 in Russia. He emphasised that provision for the elderly such as homes for veterans should be maintained and thought that issues around the leisure activities of the elderly needed resolving and that the status of social workers should be elavated and so on. Mr Medvedev concluded by saying that discussions should take place in the near future on preparing a new law on social services which would concern not only the elderly but also the whole population. He added that in many regions it was not only the state but also NGOs that were invoved in providing social services to the elderly; and in some places business as well. 'But that is a subject which should be developed separately, including within the context of private sector/state and voluntary sector/state partnership', he explained.
Mr Karyukhin picked out a number of what he thought were particularly important statements in the president's speech. These included 'recognition of the role of civil society (both the business community and voluntary organisations) in regard to issues connected with social support for people of the older generation'. 'The most significant aspect for us resides in the fact that having recognised the importance of voluntary organisations, he also took on board the demoralising imbalance in the distribution of resources which disfavours the organisations helping the elderly', stated Mr Karyukhin. He applied the metaphor of the traffic lights to what had been happening in recent years, saying that they had been on green so far as children's and youth programmes were concerned but on red for projects targeted at support for the elderly. 'Now at the very highest level a clear signal has been given to all donor organisations, corporate philanthropy and grant making foundations that it is time to change their strategy and the tactics', stated the expert.